Monday, December 21, 2009

meal plan monday

  • sunday: waffles; sausage
  • monday: chicken soup; sourdough (carried over from last week – we had leftovers on saturday instead)
  • tuesday: hamburgers; carrot sticks; tater tots
  • wednesday: chicken; rice; peas&carrots
  • thursday: french dips; salad (we have christmas dinner on the 25th, not on christmas eve)
  • friday: christmas dinner!!!!
  • satuday: pizza; green beans (as if we could NOT have it!)

i did the shopping yesterday, thank goodness. i hate shopping anyway, but doing it on sunday afternoons works pretty well, because i have the potential to do it alone… although layla somehow finagled her way along. i went to qfc in redmond w/ the added bonus of being able to go to ben franklin in the same trip. managed to pick up the RIGHT yarn for attempt #5 or something of my niece’s birthday/christmas/graduation present (yes, she’s 1 – you read that right. i’m just not very optimistic about getting it done in the next decade). ::sigh::

Friday, December 18, 2009

if you teach your mother to knit…

…you might get an email at 2:58am that looks something like this:

“Dearest Daughter:

Are you supposed to have suicidal feelings when your knitting is not doing what it's supposed to do?

Is it all right if you ripped it all out and decided to start over just doing KNIT for the next few years?

Is it all right  to wake up your Dad and yell at him because he's sleeping through your knitting night-mare?

Other than that I feel fine--am going to bed--and plan to learn casting-on the first thing in the morning.

Love from MOM

P. S. Yarn does not go thru the paper shredder--surprisingly--neither do knitting needles ....”

it’s amazing what you find…

…when you’ve lost the tv remote.

our remote had been MIA for 2 days, so last night, dave tore apart the couch (not literally) in an attempt to find it. he did. but he also found, among much dust, crumbs, nuts, cereal and other junk…

001

  • 1 shamrock BLING necklace
  • 1 sample size bottle of baby lotion
  • 21 cents
  • 2 marbles
  • 1 lego
  • some sort of U shaped metal stake i’ve never seen before and have no idea where it came from
  • 1 paper circle
  • 1 foam circle and 1 oval
  • 1 plastic knife
  • 2 stitch markers
  • 2 bob the builder memory cards
  • 1 guitar pick
  • 1 plastic play spoon
  • 1 clothespin
  • 1 crayon
  • 1 colored pencil
  • 1 hair clip
  • 1 baby sock

makes you wonder what your couch has been eating lately, doesn’t it?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the shawl!!!!

i don’t know how i managed to forget to post these until now.  002001 

the pictures really do not give the yarn justice. it’s just gorgeous. (and it only took me what, 5 and a half months to finish. HA!) i already miss it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

UNbalanced

i’m definitely one for extremes. i know this about myself. sometimes i am able to keep that in mind and the things related to it in perspective. other times, not so much. sometimes i will become overwhelmed with guilt i feel over how much i’m NOT getting done – be it with housework, homeschooling, time spent with my kids, etc. other times i will just become confused over what is going on in my own head. i try to make sense of the various (and often contradictory) extremes that are fighting for position in my head and then start to question my sanity. how can i feel this when just yesterday i whole heartedly believed in that?  i habitually set unrealistic standards for myself, my family, my children, based on what i see elsewhere, and then feel distressed or disappointed when reality doesn’t agree with the idealized version of the situation i’ve been carrying around in my head.

at any rate, i’ve had a rough couple of weeks. i guess i just feel like that by the age of 33, i would have figured out who i am. it seems like i should have a firm grasp on what i believe in and hold to be important. yet i feel more lost than ever. i’ve been trying to sort out who i am as a person. as a wife. as a mother. as a child of God… and it just seems like i should have sorted SOMETHING out by now.

i became very discouraged recently. i’m not sure exactly what set me off initially. probably one of those series’ of events that, individually, seem harmless enough, but together created some sort of chemical reaction that caused me to implode. as some point i realized that a lot of what i felt strongly about was causing me to alienate myself from people that i love. i found myself offending people unintentionally and walking around with this high and mighty, judgmental attitude that was VERY distressing to me. in general, i think i’m a pretty friendly person. i can be kind of shy with strangers, but i LOVE my friends and family and somehow or other i was walking around with this attitude that everyone was wrong most of the time… including me. i was NOT feeling like a very nice person. so, extremist that i am, rather than just working on the bad stuff, i had to throw out everything.

then i read the news about little josie duggar, born at 25 weeks and weighing only 1 lb, 6 oz, followed shortly thereafter by news of another friend who, in the second trimester, had lost her baby. i lost one at 10 weeks and it was the most devastating thing i’ve every experienced… i don’t know if there’s any comparison there. it seems to me that the longer you have that baby, the worse it would hurt, but i don’t know. the selfish part of me is glad i don’t know. i hope that doesn’t sound insensitive. at any rate, news like this causes me to look at my 3 healthy children and wonder why i don’t appreciate them more. why i resent it when they require my attention? is this NOT what parenting is about? i suppose guilt is my middle name, so why not indulge in it? i started to feel like i didn’t deserve these children, like God made a mistake in making me their mother. wouldn’t they be better off with someone who cares more? who has more energy? more patience? more creativity? and in the midst of all that, i made the mistake of looking at a blog i used to read. it’s the blog of a friend of a friend, but i knew she was pregnant and wondered if she’d had her baby yet. but then i had to keep reading. there’s a reason (other than the fact that i don’t actually know her) that i quit reading her blog. the person is one of those over-achieving types – well, at least it seems that way. she puts a lot of pictures on her blog and from what i can see, she’s the anti-rachel. as in her house is spotless, there’s no clutter, everything is decorated by someone who knows something about decorating, she’s disgustingly crafty, homeschools her kids (who always wear matching, coordinated outfits that are clean), and is always posting about fun places they’ve gone and projects they’ve done, or cute little parties they’ve thrown, complete with all the food and decorations and ‘special’ stuff she’s made herself for her children. UGH! guilt personified.

so there i am, wallowing in guilt over all the stuff i don’t do, and the children i don’t appreciate, and the house i haven’t cleaned, and the parties i don’t throw, and the crafts i don’t do, and why is it so hard for me and so easy for everyone else, and yada yada yada. instant depressed rachel. yes, i know, it all sounds SO stupid. and today, i can see that. today i can write about it with the right perspective.

for the most part, episodes like this are bad for me. i know this. i hate when i get like this and the unpleasantness that comes with it and the fact that my family has to deal with that. but at the same time, it can kind of shake up my complacency and cause me to realize that the things i feel bad about are generally areas that i CAN stand to improve, just not necessarily to the extreme i was obsessing over. i DO need to be nicer about things. proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” ya think? looking back i can see that i set myself up for that one. my job is to make sure that my heart and my life is right before the Lord, and to encourage others, but never to judge them. also, i DO need to appreciate my children more and my attitude needs to be more loving, understanding and patient. galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” i have had a major lack in all of these departments lately. i know that comparing myself to others is generally destructive, but i also know that there is much to learn from others, i just have to have the right attitude about it.

i know how blessed i am.

Monday, December 14, 2009

update on my feeble attempts to create new habits…

a couple weeks ago, i had a post about my pathetic housekeeping abilities, lack of motivation, bad habits, etc. etc. etc… i talked about different systems i’ve tried in the past and all of that, and was greatly inspired to put something together again, to try and remedy the pig sty i live in. so in my fit of motivation, i ordered the book from the library and made a trip to staples to buy a new, smaller cardfile box and some new 3x5 cards.

so this is my version of how this works. if you want the whole scoop, read the book. if for no other reason than it’s hilarious!

in my cardfile, i have 12 dividers for the months of the year and 31 dividers for the days of the month. i also have index cards in white, yellow, blue and pink. i want to get a few other colors as well, so i can give a color to dave and another to shane, and eventually a color to layla and micah, so everyone has their own cards.

1 card = 1 chore. right now, with a couple exceptions, all of the cards in the box are mine. however, dave has kindly asked me how he can help and be supportive, and i just told him to check the box and if there are any cards in it that haven’t been done, DO THEM!

i have my chores divided up into daily, weekly, monthy/seasonally/yearly chores. blue cards are for daily chores (laundry, dishes, dusting, etc.) , yellow are weekly (showers, floors, sheets, etc.), white are all the rest (washing walls, flipping mattresses, etc.). i’ll get to the pink cards later and i’m still on the fence over whether or not they’re necessary.

i have the days of the week lined up with a plan for a certain area to be cleaned/attended to. this works best for me because then it’s not like i know i have to spend all day cleaning the entire house ever. just a little bit every day. i put all of my blue daily chore cards in front of the number divider for today. the yellow ones get distributed in front of the dividers for the days of the week they go with and the white cards get distributed throughout the rest of the months accordingly. at the start of a new month, i move the white cards to dates on which i intend to do them.

so to get specific, here’s what my weekly plan looks like:

  • monday: floors and windows
  • tuesday: ironing
  • wednesday: living room
  • thursday: kitchen/dining room
  • friday: bathrooms
  • saturday: bedrooms
  • sunday: menu/grocery shopping

my weekly chores correspond with the area of the house being dealt with and you can probably figure out what’s involved in that, so i won’t list all of those.

i will list my daily chores though, because they’re the biggest key to success, i think. i’m a very day-to-day kind of person. planning ahead makes me feel nervous and boxed in and afraid that some unforeseen event will spoil the plan i made and stuff like that really stresses me out. (i know, i need help.) if i can keep on top of my daily chores, the weekly ones are easier to accomplish. major cleaning is less major, because all week i’ve been doing minor maintenance. keeping up with the daily stuff is what saves my sanity! these are my cards for what i attempt to accomplish throughout each day:

  • unload dishwasher and put away dishes
  • check what’s planned for dinner and thaw/prepare anything if necessary
  • make beds (shane does his own)
  • bible reading
  • wash and dry one load of laundry
  • bathroom wipe-down – hall bathroom (i use a clorox wipe on the counter, faucet, knobs, and toilet surfaces)
  • bathroom wipe-down – master bathroom
  • fold and put away laundry (i split the laundry up into 2 cards purposely because i would often get the first part done and then the load would sit in the dryer until i needed the dryer and then it would sit in the basket)
  • wipe dining table
  • wipe stove and kitchen counters
  • take out compost
  • load and run dishwasher
  • vacuum diningroom, kitchen, hall, livingroom, bedrooms (shane is in charge of tidying up first)
  • make coffee (i do this the night before and it is my #1 sanity saver!)

after i have completed a card, i move it so it’s in front of the next day’s divider (or the appropriate one for next week if it’s yellow card, or in front of the appropriate month if it’s white).

of course, this is all IDEAL. these are my goals. should i ever actually accomplish every card in the box, the earth would reverse it’s rotation, hell would freeze over, and the sun would likely fall out of the sky. i’m probably the worst about the white cards. when the card for “clean oven” comes up, i’m quick to think of an excuse for why i can’t do it right then and shuffle it quickly to the next month. i get very scarlet o’hara about stuff like that… i’ll think about it tomorrow.

at any rate, i’m trying. i still haven’t found my magic motivator… if you find it, let me know!

meal plan monday

did the shopping yesterday – thank goodness i’m DONE.

  • sunday: scrambled eggs; sausage patties; toast
  • monday: chicken burritos
  • tuesday: white chicken chili; sourdough
  • wednesday: advent dinner/service @ church
  • thursday: tacos
  • friday: pizza; green beans
  • saturday: chicken noodle soup; sourdough

can you tell i have a lot of chicken in the freezer and little else?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

interesting discoveries

i discovered last night, at dave’s company christmas party, that layla is TERRIFIED of santa claus. about 10 minutes later, i discovered that she’s also terrified of the grinch. yup. there were a couple of costumed visitors at the party which made the party less than a party for us. we didn’t have a bad time, and it was a very laid-back atmosphere, but layla spent the entire time keeping track of those two characters and making sure that they were no where near her. she didn’t venture more than 2 feet from us the whole night and practically climbed us every time one of them was in view. fortunately, santa claus was very kind and gently tried to win her over by offering her a candy cane and having little conversations with her. eventually she was willing to take the candy cane, gave him a tentative high five, and actually said thank you to him audibly. sitting on his lap for a picture was completely out of the question.

other than that it was fun and the city was beautiful in the dark, of course. dave’s building is opposite the downtown macy’s so it was thrilling to walk outside and be standing right under the big star (it’s still the ‘bon star’ in my mind). we rode the carousel and checked out a wonderful set-up of toy trains in a display window. it all felt very christmassy, which i guess is kind of the point!

Monday, December 7, 2009

meal plan monday

it’s back. i skipped last week because i was lazy. we mostly just ate out of the freezer and i don’t even think i went grocery shopping at all. this week we’re still eating out of the freezer a little bit, and i already did the shopping yesterday, since i was already out at fred meyer doing my christmas shopping (SO thankful to have a dad who retired from fred meyer and has a perpetual employee discount!). so other than a small costco run i have to make later this week, i’m DONE already!!!!

  • sunday: french toast; bacon
  • monday: tater tot casserole (the spare i put in the freezer last time i made it)
  • tuesday: mac & cheese w/ dogs; peas and carrots (the kids will be SO happy!)
  • wednesday: advent dinner/service at church
  • thursday: beef barley soup; sourdough (also out of the freezer from last time)
  • friday: pizza; green beans
  • saturday: chicken of some sort and veggies of some sort (yet to be determined after i go to costco and get the chicken)

woohoo!

Friday, December 4, 2009

holiday?

so i’ve had a skeleton of this post bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks now. i’m not even really sure what the point of it is, or what my opinion on the matter really is, except that it’s something that’s kind of irritating me.

have you noticed that christmas has been, more or less, completely deleted? listen to your radio. watch the commercials on tv. read the ads in the paper. nothing. it’s like ‘christmas’ has become a dirty word.

now before anyone gets their dander all up, this is not a particularly religiously-inspired post, not that i disagree with the idea that ‘Christ’ should remain the center of ‘Christ’mas.  but that’s not what this is about.

i’m a ‘word person’. i love language. i love the idiosyncrasies that that come with spoken and written language. i love that humans have the ability to string letters and words and sentences together to create something beautiful, or funny, or clever, or ANYTHING! it’s just a wonderful thing. i love that we can trace sayings or pronunciations or roots back to who knows where and stuff like that. in other words, i’m a total nerd. but that’s also beside the point. my point is, that it seems like popular culture (or whoever is in charge of it) has decided that the WORD ‘christmas’ is bad, and should be avoided and replaced with a non-specific, totally generic term like ‘holiday’.

again, i will break into my rambling thoughts to point out that i am aware of the whole PC angle here. i know that not everyone celebrates christmas, and there are other ‘holidays’ which are celebrated this time of year, etc, etc, etc…

however, it’s not like christmas has disappeared, or has been deemed unacceptable, just the word.

the retailers still encourage us to do our ‘holiday shopping’. while gifts are given for hanukkah as well, i’m not convinced that the mass marketing of chia pets, salad shooters and the clapper are aimed at hanukkah shoppers. (btw, have you ever noticed how those things only show up in stores this time of year? i think it’s hilarious and i LOVE the commercials. they’re the same ones they’ve had for the last 20 years!) we’re supposed to buy stocking stuffers too? do people hang stockings for kwanzaa? or new years’? not only that, we keep getting reminded of how many shopping days are left until december 25th. yup, you know. that non-specific holiday that happens to be on december 25th.

santa claus still shows up at all the malls and we’re supposed to dress our kids up and make them stand in long lines to tell him what they’ve been good all year and have their picture taken with him. correct me if i’m wrong, but i’m pretty sure santa is associated with christmas.

we’re supposed to send ‘holiday’ cards. yup. cards that say ‘happy holidays’ but are covered with pictures of christmas trees or nativity scenes or santa claus. hmmmm….

we hang ‘holiday’ lights on our houses, drape them over our bushes, set up elaborate ‘holiday’ displays in our yards. now, i realize that i don’t have a lot of jewish friends, but do people put giant inflatable homer simpsons dressed as santa claus or snowglobes with reindeer in them or in their yards for hanukkah? really?

and for some reason, all of the ‘holiday’ decor, is really christmas decor. no really. go to target. look at that section. it’s all christmas trees and santa claus and elves and holly and stuff like that. have you put up your new years’ tree yet? your winter solstice tree? it is so NOT generic. there’s a separate hanukkah section. and for some reason, it’s specifically called ‘hanukkuh decor’. why is that okay, but ‘christmas’ isn’t?

don’t tell me it’s because christmas is traditionally a religious holiday. if that were the problem, then people who don’t associate themselves with the religious traditions of christmas would just not celebrate it. and christmas has LONG been much more to a good share of the christian and non-christian general public (of the west, at least). easter is definitely a religious holiday, but it’s okay to buy easter baskets and easter eggs and easter decor… and besides, is hanukkuh not a religious holiday too?

i don’t want anyone to think that i’m picking on hanukkah here. that’s not my intention. i’m just using it as an illustration for why i’m wondering why christmas is NOT okay.

i guess i feel like if people are that offended by christmas, then maybe they shouldn’t celebrate it. instead it seems like everyone has to go through this crazy charade of doing everything we’ve always done for christmas, but pretending that it’s just not called christmas!

i know, in the grand scheme of things, this really doesn’t matter. i choose to put up christmas lights on my house. if i send cards, they will be christmas cards. it’s just that the constant barrage of advertising and all things associated with christmas partnered with the blatant absence of the word gets a little irritating.

so, if you celebrate christmas, then i wish you a ‘merry christmas!’ if you don’t then i don’t. i wish you a happy time celebrating whatever it is you celebrate. i just don’t understand why there’s this double standard of not being able to specify that the holiday you’re celebrating is christmas.

i hope no one is offended by this. just me, analyzing things like i usually do and wondering what the fuss is all about. if you’re in the ‘holiday’ camp, i’d love to hear why, so please comment, but be nice. it’s purely sociological curiosity and a bit of language-inspired irritation that arises in me when stuff just doesn’t make sense.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

can someone please give me my kid back?

i’m experiencing a bit of frustration lately. okay, a lot. and it’s exhausting. something happened to my sweet, wonderful, bestest little boy ever and he has been replaced with a TWO YEAR OLD! ugh. i’ve been quite spoiled in the last two years. as a baby, micah was super-content and never required more than his fair share of attention. a little later, he discovered climbing and my biggest challenge was trying to keep him from falling on his head. for the last year or so, he’s been so low maintenance, i’ve REALLY gotten spoiled. last spring, i discovered that he was great for easy bedtimes. plunk him in the crib, give him a couple books, say night night, and that was it! a few tears here and there, but more often than not, would fall asleep without much fuss. he was also really good at entertaining himself and would disappear into his bedroom to read books. he was also mostly trustworthy about putting stuff in his mouth or other ‘dangerous’ type things. i could point at a burner, say ‘hot’ and he would walk away.

well, now i can’t turn my back 5 seconds without him getting into trouble! last week we had to say good bye to the crib because he could climb out of it, so now naps are a rare luxury. he runs away everytime you want him to do anything. he gets into layla’s coloring supplies and colors on EVERYTHING. he can reach anything i can by pushing a chair over or climbing onto the counter. he’s back on the table every other minute. he tries to help himself to the fruit basket (it’s a hanging fruit basket) all the time. he’s started playing in the toilet again. i got out the door knob covers again, but he already took one off once. his favorite ‘toys’ are things he’s not supposed to have. he likes to get on a stool and examine the contents of the junk drawer. he likes to pull shane’s school things off the shelf and scatter them all over the floor. toys are of very little use to him right now. the only thing he does with toys is dump them out all over the floor and then start chucking them across the room, OR hits people with them. SO fun. and he’s not interested in any of them for longer than 5 minutes, if that! UGH! yes, i realize he wants attention, but given that i’ve got a homeschooling 4th grader in the house, and a 4 year old as well, there are times i NEED him to entertain himself!

and then there’s the scary factor. last night, while dave, shane and i were all standing in the kitchen, micah sat down in the middle of the floor, RIGHT NEXT TO US, and proceeded to pull the jug of dishwasher detergent out of the child-locked cabinet under the sink. dave looked down and noticed him as he was pulling off the dried-on dribbles and putting them in his mouth and wiping it onto his face! hello!!!! i wiped a big blob of this stuff off of his eyelashes and washed out his mouth and gave him a big cup of milk, but i have to say, i stayed up VERY late last night so i could be sure he was okay… yes, he’s fine - he couldn’t have gotten very much in, but good grief! i always wondered who those kids were that you heard about who drank bleach or gasoline… well, now i know. sheesh!

thank goodness he’s still cute.

i know layla went through this too. starting around 18 months or so, she lost all interest in toys and only wanted to play with the mail, the laundry, important documents or other things that were not for her. i don’t think we ever really solved it, mostly just did damage control, and eventually she discovered coloring and that was that.

shane NEVER went through anything like this. he would play with cars or trains or whatever for hours. HOURS! he was very self-entertaining, never got into trouble.

at any rate, life is somewhat difficult right now. i’m feeling worn out. i didn’t get a shower in until 1:15 today when micah (miraculously) took a short nap. i used to be able to do that without worrying, but not now. and since he can get out of bed on his own, i’m not really comfortable doing it before he wakes up either (on the off chance that i should be able to drag myself out of bed before him). layla is kind of emotional right now as well, and shane is his usual highly-distractable, schoolwork-hating self, which leaves me frequently with 3 kids who require my undivided attention. right.

okay, sorry this was kind of a long ramble/rant/whine. life’s really not so bad, as long as i can keep micah in one piece and maintain some semblance of my sanity, i guess we’ll be okay. wish me luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

2010 ‘bucket’ list

so i have a few friends who did this sort of thing last year and i like the idea. so i’ve been thinking about doing one of my own. it’s different from new years’ resolutions in that it’s not stuff like, “work out 3 times a week” or “clean out the garage”… not that those are bad things to be doing. this is more like a bucket list. stuff i want to do before the year ‘dies’. i don’t have a lot so far, but i figure i’ll keep adding to it as i think of things and hopefully have something by the time this year dies.

  1. spin my own yarn
  2. spend more time in nature.
  3. read all of jane austen’s books.
  4. can my own veggies/fruits
  5. acquire a sewing machine
  6. re-learn to play the piano

Monday, November 23, 2009

meal plan monday!

two weeks in a row and here we go!

  • monday: beef-barley soup; sourdough
  • tuesday: chicken; beans and rice; salad
  • wednesday: tater tot casserole
  • thursday: thanksgiving!!!
  • friday: pizza; green beans (duh)
  • saturday: leftovers
  • sunday: scrambles; toast

there you have it. i’m using the left-over yummy pot roast from last week for my soup tonight. OMG, it was SO good. i made the best gravy EVER with it too. some of that might find it’s way into the soup as well… okay, i’ll stop. i know everyone (myself included) is gaining weight just reading this!

i mentioned last week about husbands being super helpful in the inspiration department… well, mine came through for me this week. NOT. when i asked him if there was anything in particular he was craving this week, he responded with, “turkey.”

yeah… what a turkey.

Friday, November 20, 2009

habits

we all have habits. some good, some bad, some indifferent. a lot of the time i will be frustrated with myself, blaming the things i am displeased about on ‘personality traits’, but really, it’s just bad habits. i am not naturally a ‘clean freak’ kind of person, and it takes a LOT of motivation to cause me to WANT to clean. this is not to say that i enjoy living in a mess! i guess you could say that i’m a clean freak trapped in a slob’s body. this is an endless source of frustration for me. over the years i’ve tried several ways to ‘fix’ this problem, some with great success, others with minimal, but nothing seems to stick. i’ve read countless books, subscribed to websites, made to-do lists, bought or created tools with which to organize my cleaning… as if somehow that process would cause the house to be clean.

my best effort came from a system described in the book sidetracked home executives by pam young and peggy jones, aka the ‘slob sisters’. these were women like me, homemakers that missed the boat on the whole cleaning and organizational thing. i loved this book and could SO relate to their woes. their system involves a card file in which you store 3x5 index cards which have your chores written on them. you organize these by jobs which must be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. the cards are then distributed throughout the week, month, etc. and rotated through as you complete the chores. this worked great for me. i had a lot of fun creating this (there’s that aspect of my personality that likes to get distracted by the lesser details of projects like this) and for awhile, the system worked well for me. it was while we were still living in ohio. shane was in kindergarten, layla was just shy of a year old, i was finishing up my BA, and frequently watching my 1 year old niece during the day. yet i made this work. the house was clean, the clutter was under control (for the most part), we ate real meals every night, the laundry was caught up (and this was when i was hanging everything out to dry) we were able to have drop-in company and overnight guests w/out a major production, freak-out, break-down or frantic stashing of stuff in closets behind closed doors.

and then we moved.

i never got in the habit again.

they say it takes 21 days to create a habit. i have to say that it’s pretty unfair that it takes that long to create one, but only one day to completely derail it.

i have all sorts of excuses. i found the system a little patronizing. it seemed to me that you shouldn’t need a card for every little step of cleaning the bathroom (clean toilet; scrub sink; wipe counter; polish faucet; wipe mirror; scrub tub; empty garbage; sweep floor; mop floor; change towels; etc.). i figured that if i just put in a card that said ‘clean bathroom’ that should be enough. i think i kind of sabotaged myself with that, and in other ways too. i tend to be a perfectionist and an extremist. if i can’t do something all the way, i would rather not bother at all. therefore, if i didn’t get something done, i would feel bad about it, i would figure there was no point in trying, if i wasn’t able to do it all. another aspect of the system is delegating jobs. kind of like giving your husband and kids their own chores. but then i didn’t know what to do if they didn’t do it. i felt bad, or even resentful, if i kept having to cycle their cards through, undone. it drove me nuts actually, but then i didn’t want to be a nag either. at any rate, i had all sorts of excuses for why this wasn’t working, and so i quit. my cardfile is still sitting on the shelf right next to me right now… hmmm…

the thing i’ve learned from all of this (and my many other attempts as well), is that there’s nothing out there that will work unless i actually DO it. the thing i’ve been searching for, the ever-elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, is the book, website, tool, system that will cause me to WANT to get off my butt and keep my house clean.

let me assure you, this DOES NOT EXIST.

somehow, this i’ve allowed this lack of motivation, this tendency toward laziness or distraction (ahem, knitting? reading? facebook? blogging?) to become a legitimate excuse. somehow, the fact that i don’t WANT to clean out the microwave or wipe the windows, and the world won’t end if i don’t is enough for me to justify NOT doing it. i hate that. then i’d get all depressed about not doing it, which is a real motivation killer. what a great cycle. so helpful.

it’s time for me to create some new habits. i know it’s not impossible. i have made new ones over the last few years, that i’ve been keeping really well. bed making, for instance. i make the beds (mine, layla’s and micah’s) just about every day – weekdays, at least. dishes, i run the dishwasher every night and try to make sure i unload it every morning. i HATE when dishes get piled up on the counter or in the sink, and it’s just so much easier to dump them immediately into an empty dishwasher. meal planning… as my last post would indicate, this has become a GOOD, necessary habit. the one i’m the most pleased about is my daily bible reading. this is something i’ve always known i SHOULD do, but never have been able to make it a habit. i’ve not been perfect about it, but more often than not, i do it. oh, and since we’ve had sophie back with us, i vacuum EVERYTHING every night. this also causes the floor to have to be tidied up (this has become one of shane’s chores), which is always a HUGE improvement. when you have little kids in the house, it’s a never-ending battle, but life is so much better when you’re not tripping over the same toys for days. okay, that’s not exactly realistic. we do trip over the same toys, but that’s just because they got strewn back out on the floor, NOT because we left them there! ;)

i kind of wish i had someone who is in the same position as me, who would be willing to be my ‘accountability’ partner on this. kind of like how people do better about going to the gym or working out if they have someone they go with… hmmm.. any other slobby people out there want to do this with me? i’m serious. help!

Monday, November 16, 2009

meal plan monday

yup! it’s back. i have no idea why i quit doing these, but i think it was a bad idea. i like getting ideas from other people about what their families eat for dinner, so i guess i figure they might enjoy seeing what we eat.

so, without further ado, here we go this week!

  • monday: meatloaf; peas; mashed potatoes
  • tuesday: loaded baked potatoes; salad
  • wednesday: chicken noodle soup; cheese & crackers
  • thursday: pot roast; potatoes; carrots
  • friday: pizza; green beans (duh)
  • saturday: leftovers
  • sunday: waffles; sausages

so there you go. sadly, i have yet to do my shopping. UGH! ::dislike dislike dislike:: i figure i’ll do it tomorrow afternoon when shane’s at his science class, since i have the stuff for dinner tonight (and he’s the catalyst for making a truly hellish shopping trip). i think i’ll get what i can at costco, since i have to go there to pick up a few things on the list anyway… may as well see if i can get as many things as i can there.

people are frequently surprised when i mention that i plan menus every week. honestly, i can’t imagine NOT doing it. okay, i can, because there have been times (hellish, disorganized times where ate a lot of mac and cheese or made multiple trips to the store – you can guess how well i liked that!) that i didn’t plan our meals. but pretty much, since dave and i have been married, i’ve planned meals. it makes things SO much easier. the thought of NOT doing it now is just bizarre to me. i guess i kind of depend on it. for one thing, i’m not the kind of person who has the sort of cooking repertoire that i can open a cupboard and throw things together. for another, if i go to the store without a list, i wander aimlessly and attempt to come up with good ideas, but can never remember recipes well enough to get everything, or i’ll buy something we already have at home, or not buy something i thought we did have at home. in other words, not planning is just a big ole mess!

if you’re not in the habit of doing this, let me give you a couple tips. if someone as domestically and organizationally challenged as me can make this work, so can you.

  • print off a blank calendar page and stick it on the fridge or other OBVIOUS surface in the kitchen. i use these ones: http://www.thehouseholdplanner.com/products/calendars/ i used to use the ones that were totally blank, but i’ve decided that it’s nice to have the dates and holidays already listed since it reminds me if there’s something obvious, like thanksgiving, coming up.
  • look at your regular calendar before you plan. this way you know what nights are ‘normal’ nights and which ones will have family members absent, or if you won’t be home at all, etc. i know that mondays and wednesdays right now need to be meals that are a little lighter and less involved, since dave and shane both scoot off to soccer practice at 5:30. we also eat earlier those nights so whatever i’m making has to be done sooner than usual.
  • make your shopping list at the same time you make your menu plan. look in your cupboards/pantry, fridge and freezer as you’re doing this. use stuff you already have, especially if it’s something that will go bad. make sure you look at your recipes to see if there’s some obscure ingredient you forgot about that you need to buy.
  • think about having weekly staples. we have pizza on fridays and we have breakfast for dinner every sunday. this gives you a few ‘no-brainer’ nights, because it is seriously hard to come up with 7 yummy and creative meals every week. you WILL burn out, and those staples can be a lifesaver.
  • consider making double or triple batches of things like casseroles and soups. if you’re already cooking one, it’s not that much harder to make two and then freeze one. the library has loads of books on ‘freezer cooking’ or ‘once a month’ cooking that have tips for stuff like this and recipes that lend themselves well to freezing. i haven’t gotten that far into it, but it’s just common sense to make extra and have a freezer full of meals you can pull out in a pinch or when you’re having one of those burn-out weeks where you can’t think of anything that sounds good. i wish i’d made this a habit earlier. i would have loved having a freezer full of stuff when i was newly pregnant and the thought of everything made me turn green.
  • if you get stuck, ask your family if there’s anything they’re craving lately. although, if your husband is like mine, you might get the answer ‘food’ more often than you’d like.
  • finally, keep your menus. i have a stack of them on my fridge, behind the current month, going all the way back to january of last year. this also, can be a lifesaver when you can’t seem to think of anything. you can also make notes on them if you try a new recipe. sometimes a new recipe will totally bomb – either no one liked it or it was too hard to make or whatever. you can make a note to NEVER make it again, so you won’t find yourself flipping through the same cook book and thinking, again, that that recipe might sound good. NO! on the other hand, there might be a new recipe that went over really well, and you can put stars or smiley faces or whatever cheesy notation you want on it so you remember to put it into your family’s rotation of favorites.

i hope that’s helpful. feel free to comment with questions or advice of things that have worked for you! happy meal planning!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

no aggression issues here!

fyi: don’t mess with this little girl.

Friday, November 13, 2009

hello again

my mom actually complained the other day about my lack of posts lately. REALLY. i told her that i’d had nothing to write about. at any rate, here’s my update for now, in relation to recent things.

we did decide to trick or treat. it was fun. shane’s mario costume actually came together pretty well, thanks to a little help from my friends. layla’s flower costume also happened, barely, also with a little help from my friends. (are you detecting a theme here?) micah’s monkey costume was borrowed from a friend. (for some reason, i have a beatles song wandering through my head right now, do you?)

here they are:

h001 

as i’m writing this, it’s reminding me of just how blessed i am to be a part of this community, family, neighborhood, etc. let me expound that part about a little help from my friends:

we’ll start with shane. he got the idea to dress up as mario after his friend, sean, mentioned that he was going to be luigi. so i chatted w/ trudy about what she’d gathered so far. she mentioned a green shirt she found at target, a link for the overalls and a hat she’d found on amazon. i grabbed the shirt (red, of course), and she ordered a red hat at the same time as sean’s green one. her husband found some mustaches and picked up two. i mentioned on facebook that i was having trouble finding overalls and my friend, tina, mentioned she had some he could borrow. PERFECT! they were a little big, which is fine because mario is a bit on the chubby side, so we stuffed a pillow in, and he was pleasantly plump. viola!

h002

layla had decided she wanted to be a flower. i have to say this costume got the most attention while out trick or treating. she wanted her head to be the flower and her body to be the stem. i came up with the idea of the pot. our neighbor, susie, does a little gardening (that’s an understatement), so i figured she might have a pot we could use. she gave us an old, lightweight, plastic pot, big enough for layla to fit in. dave cut out the bottom, but we needed a way to keep it up. i remembered my friend, angie had mentioned that her daughter used to wear suspenders to keep her pants up. perfect! i sent a quick email and secured the suspenders. i got layla a green hoodie to be the stem and made the petals out of felt, glued around a headband. we had a little trouble keeping them from drooping, but borrowed some safety pins from susie and my mom and fixed the problem.h005 layla and her friend robin, the black cat.

i didn’t know what to do about micah. i hate spending money on a costume that will only get worn once, and with him being the littlest, there’s no one behind him to wear it in a few years. :( so i sent out a mass email to my MOMS club to see if someone had a costume he could borrow. i got so many responses and wound up with a bagful from my friend, summer, to choose from. he wound up being a monkey and was SO cute i could hardly stand it. his costume had a tail – i think that was the kicker for me. later in the evening (after trick or treating) he discovered the tail and thought it was really hilarious. as did i.

 h012 discovering his tail.

i have great friends and i’m so thankful for everyone who helped me pull this off! we had a blast and i’m glad we went.

h010   mario and luigi after their mustaches got too itchy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

micah’s song

winkle winkle witto TAR!

howa wuh-wuh what a ARE!

uppabubba … HIGH!

lika dima inna GUY!!!!

winkle winkle witto TAR!

howa wuh-wuh what a ARE!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

to trick or treat or not to trick or treat… that is the question…

so i appear to be having a halloween dilemma.

i’ve always ‘celebrated’ halloween. you know, we carve a pumpkin, dress up in costumes, go ring doorbells and get candy.

i did it when i was a kid. my kids have done it.

but that’s not to say i feel entirely comfortable with it. i haven’t looked into it a lot, but i am aware of the sketchy, pagan history of the holiday, and it does kind of disturb me that that’s what we continue to celebrate. and i do remember at some point, my mom expressing concern over the holiday and kind of wanting to ‘quit’.

that said, what most people ‘celebrate’ as halloween is a far cry from where it came from. i don’t think that putting a kid in a bunny costume and ringing the neighbor’s doorbell is all that evil. dressing up is fun. candy is fun.

but the bible warns about associating with witchcraft and mediums and various evil stuff like that. ***edited to add*** and as a christian, i believe that following the bible’s guidelines is important. does this not qualify as one of those situations?

and then there’s the issue with the massive OVER-commercialization that drives me nuts. think of all the people making outrageous sums of money over all this. you have to have a new costume EVERY year. and have you seen what costumes cost? good grief. and then there’s the copious amounts of candy you have to buy, and the decorations, and a trip to the pumpkin patch (unless your pumpkin patch is just out back), and the lights, the window clings, the bats that fly around in a circle, the fake spiderweb stuff, styrofoam tombstones, and the spooky background music. apparently you should send your friends and relatives halloween cards as well.

i know that’s kind of silly. every holiday is commercialized. and yes, it bugs me, every holiday. it’s not really a reason to stop celebrating them.

side note. have you noticed the route that women’s costumes have taken lately? it’s impossible to find a non-slutty women’s costume! this drives me nuts. even the costumes that are practically identical to the ones for little girls are SO not identical. you could be the slutty pirate, the slutty firefighter, the slutty princess, the slutty dorothy, the slutty little red riding hood, the slutty police officer. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT????

this all has kind of come to a head recently when, after accumulating several pieces for shane’s costume, he’s announced that he doesn’t want to go trick or treating. HUH??? apparently he thinks he’s too old. not sure where he got that idea, but i’m kind of seeing it as an opportunity to make a change, if we’re going to. that coupled with the fact that layla has a bad cold might make halloween this year a non-issue, although she has been looking forward to it.

obviously, this is a totally personal issue, and a decision that every family has to make for themselves – if they even see that there is a decision to be made. i don’t have any problem, whatsoever, with other people celebrating halloween, well, if they’re doing all the invoking of evil spirits and all that, i DO have a problem, but not ‘normal, safe, modern-american halloween. i’m just contemplating whether or not it should be something our family does. hmmm… must do more research, methinks.

just trying to do the right thing here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

putting my foot in my mouth…

otherwise known as, i have a lot of new posts up.

i say i’m putting my foot in my mouth because i just finished giving mary a hard time about her 14 new posts. i’m not THAT bad, but i do have like 5. i wanted to get the pictures from micah’s birthday off the camera and posted, so i did that, but found a lot of other pictures on the camera that i had meant to post. so there you go.

just keep scrolling down!

and sorry mary! ;)

party time

sunday afternoon was micah’s mini-party. i really didn’t want to have a big to-do, so we just invited a few friends to come hang and eat cake.

and that’s what we did!

but first we had to pry him away from his trains. when i asked him, “micah, do you want cake?” he replied, “no, i want thomas.”118 here trudy is attempting to convince him to come see his cake…119 eventually, we decided to bring the cake in there.121 126 we did manage to drag him away long enough to chow down!133 present time! Oballs are the best!143 the super soft, plush thomas ‘pillow’. we all want one. SO soft!148 books. and more train stuff. VERY exciting!

156   158 it was a ‘thomas’ kinda birthday for this 2 year old!

birthday boy!

so micah turned 2 this weekend.

::sniff sniff::

posing for the traditional ‘last day to be 1’ photo:086

his birthday was on saturday, but with shane having a 4:30 soccer game (which they won, btw, and he scored) we decided to have his party on sunday.

but the 17th didn’t pass without celebration. after the game on saturday night, we went to dinner at red robin and my parents joined us there. they did their whole sing and clap and yell LOUDLY thing for him and he was totally thrilled! i was a little afraid he might freak out because of it, but he loved it… especially that his sundae came with 2 balloons tied to it!

when we got home, we made the mistake of letting him open his presents from gramma and papa before he went to bed. 096 100 107            the caboose plays the ‘thomas’ theme music when you push a button on top. so, of course, he would push the button repeatedly and then go dance! SO cute.

 110109  he was SO excited about his new trains, that he wasn’t overly interested in his spiffy engineer gear, complete w/ train whistle… that’s not to say that everyone else didn’t think they were supercool!116 bedtime was tough that night. we were super-mean parents that made him go to bed and wouldn’t let him take his musical caboose to bed with him. so he went to sleep wailing, “I WANT THOMAS!” in the most pathetic way! =(

it’s tough to be 2!

fall family hike

so this was about a month ago, but i’m just now getting these pictures off my camera, so here we go. this was a little hike we took on a sunday afternoon at the paradise valley conservation area. it was a nice easy, kid-friendly assortment of trails. you can use some of them for biking and horseback riding as well as hiking.009

there was a cow pasture by the parking lot at the trailhead. so we had to check out the cows. well, some of us. for some reason, layla decided she was scared of cows. what’s that about?014

yup. the cow licked my hand. i always set a good example for my kids. yeah, those animals in there? we don’t know much about them, but you should totally stick your fingers through the fence and see what happens!

019 030 040 044

the ‘nurse log’ photo is actually a reenactment of a previous photo from when dave and i were dating and a trip we took to canada.

yes, that’s horse poo. the trail marker signs had pictures of horses on them, indicating that horses could use those trails. layla thought it meant that if you went that way, you could see horses. sadly, we saw no horses… but we did see evidence that they had been there.

the cows were gone when we got back to the parking lot, but we did find some blackberry bushes. unfortunately, layla managed to get stickers in both hands and wailed the whole way home. thankfully it’s a short drive.

art funk.

i’m ashamed to admit it. i’m in a major art funk. i’m having major trouble coming up with art for the kids to do.

no. strike that.

i’m having major trouble coming up with the motivation for the kids to do art.

it’s not that there are no ideas.

ugh.

i don’t know why i hate doing art at home so much with my own kids. when i was teaching, this was my favorite part of the day. my favorite thing to plan. the ONE thing i would never let my assistant help with because i wanted to be the one to watch all the fun.

but at home? not so much.

maybe it’s fact that i’m pulling out a bunch of stuff for only 3 kids (assuming micah is able and/or shane is willing) to use. maybe it’s the fact that i don’t have an assistant to clean up for me when we’re done. (i can’t possibly describe how much i HATE washing out paint cups and brushes. YUCK!) maybe it’s the fact that i don’t have a preschool art cupboard to raid full of all sorts of fun supplies. maybe it’s the fact that any time i DO plan something, layla is never willing to do what i have in mind. it seems like any time i attempt to plan some sort of art activity (not a ‘craft’, mind you. not one of those ‘we’re going to make a _________’ activities – i mean some sort of free-ish, open-ended art activity) she doesn’t want to do it. my free-spirited child has her own ideas, which are invariably a lot more messy and/or involved than i want them to be in my own house.

ugh.

oh well, i have no REAL excuses. especially since my mom just bought layla a box of 10 bottles of paint. that should hold us for a week or two. geez.

this is not to say that ‘NO’ art has been going on here… with layla, it’s kind of a way of life.

005 007

yes, that’s a paper dress. she’s been making dresses for paper dolls for awhile now. this time she wanted to make one to fit herself. she stuck it on with masking tape. ;-)

oh, that girl!

Friday, October 16, 2009

cat on a wet, shingled roof

so we have this cat, not our cat, that lives on our roof apparently. i guess it likes it up there. we discovered it up there a few weeks ago when the neighbors heard pathetic meowing one afternoon. after looking around all over, under cars and bushes, we finally spotted it up on the roof. assuming it was stuck, we tried to coax it down. dave finally climbed up on fence, and grabbed it when it came over for some lovin’. our neighbor teri, says it is a stray that the people who live behind her have ‘adopted’ (they feed it). so it was down, and it went on it’s way.

a couple mornings ago, shane went out to scoop the poop, and discovered the cat was back on our roof. so, being a 10 year old boy who likes cats and climbing on things, he shimmied himself up on the fence and attempted to coax the cat down. it’s a very friendly cat and would totally come over to him and rub around him and let him pet it and and was purring like crazy. but he couldn’t manage to grab it. i assured him that it would be fine. it’s a cat, after all, and if it got itself up there AGAIN, it could figure out a way to get down. we had a very distracted day of school, as shane was convinced that the cat was going to starve to death on our roof. when dave got home, we sent him out to ‘rescue’ the cat again, but it was on the other end of the house, and wouldn’t come to him. so we left it.

yesterday morning, shane went out to scoop the poop again (at least that’s what he was supposed to be doing). when i went out to see what was taking him so long, i discovered him standing on the fence, once again, with the cat in his arms. (have i mentioned that this is a 6 foot fence?) of course, now that it was IN his arms, he could not use his arms to help himself down. i told him to just drop it, and when he tried, the cat climbed back up him and onto the roof. it was NOT going to be dropped. so he started again, coaxing the cat to come to him.

it did, he caught it, and attempted again, to drop it. this time, he wound up having to jump off the fence to avoid falling. imagine a boy leaping off a 6 foot fence with a large, fluffy brown cat hanging from his sleeve. that was entertaining. fortunately everyone reached the ground safely. the cat, finding itself trapped in our backyard and quite perturbed, made a couple of attempts at scaling the fence and was unsuccessful. shane picked it up again to give it some more love (i think he’s hoping it will become OUR cat – not happening) and then put it down at my repeated screaming instructions that it was time to leave the darn cat alone and get inside to start school.

then layla let the dog out.

it took sophie all of like 2 seconds to realize that the thing she was looking at was, indeed, a cat before instinct kicked in and she remembered that she used to take great pleasure in protecting her humans from these vile creatures – in her younger years.

needless to say, the cat is back on the roof.

088

Saturday, October 10, 2009

soccer

we are in the midst of soccer season here. actually, it seems like we’ve been at it forever already and we’ve still got forever to go… 

shane’s team, nysa dynamite, because of their success in recent years, got selected to be a part of a new program that nysa is trying out this year. i’m still a little fuzzy on all the details of it and how it works, but basically, they’re still technically a rec team (as in, no tryouts, no outrageous, take out a loan, price tag), but they’re playing almost as though they were a select team. their opponents are ‘similar’ teams from around the area. i guess they’re kind of like a traveling team, in that they don’t just play teams from our league.

at any rate, they’re doing well. last week, they had their first tie of the season, 0-0 against a bellevue team, and all the rest have been wins.

Dynamites_11 Dynamites_58

this is very much in dave’s realm and he’s totally living it up as the assistant coach of the team. it’s fun for him and shane to have something like this to bond over. as always we’re super thankful for our head coach, todd and his family. a great coach. pushes the kids, expects hard work, but always kind and fair.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

reading and writing

it’s so amazing the differences between children.

layla loves to write. she spends most of her time making cards lately. her favorites are happy birthday and happy valentine’s day cards. (not sure why she’s thinking of valentine’s day right now, but whatever.) she doesn’t know how to ‘spell’ per se, but if you tell her the letters, she can write the word. well, i finally got so sick of telling her how to spell these ten thousand times a day, so i wrote it on a piece of paper for her to copy and stuck it to the lid of her box of markers.

well, just this morning, she’s sitting at the table with a pencil and a piece of paper (no box of markers), writing a valentine’s card. she says to me, “i can’t remember the rest of the letters.” so i look at what’s she’s got and see that she’s written HAPPY VALEN… wow! all that from memory. so then i say the next part of it, but not with letters. i give her the sounds and she gets all the letters right (i told her about the silent E) in valentine’s and day. she’s 4!

this totally blows my mind because i never could have done something like that with shane. that sort of thing would still frustrate him and he’s 10!

first of all, he never would have been voluntarily writing anything. he hates that. also, if he HAD to write something down, he would have wanted to know EXACTLY what letters were in it. trying to figure it out from the sounds would have been way more effort than it’s worth (and when you don’t want to do it in the first place, any effort is too much). 

it’s just interesting how much interest affects motivation.

Monday, October 5, 2009

one of the world’s greatest feats in parenting!

just have to share this. usually i’m on here expressing my frustration about the challenges of parenting, but today i have to share a triumph! and yes, you’ll laugh.

last night my amazing and wonderful husband (assisted by yours truly) pulled off the most amazing thing. micah had gone to bed and fussed for a good hour.  unusual, but not unheard of.  as usual, we ignored him. about an hour after he quit, we were getting ready to go to bed so i was moving some folded laundry off our bed and into their room to put away. as i walked into the room, i smelled a major STINK! he was sleeping face down, on his knees, with his butt up in the air (as only really little kids can do – i love seeing them sleep that way – it’s cute), so i lifted up the blanket and could totally see the bulge in his diaper through his jammies. GREAT!

so i went in and told dave that micah had a load in his shorts. so that’s why he had been fussing so much! poor kid. (don’t you love it when they do something like that just to make you feel like a bad parent?)

so then there’s the dilemma. leave him? he’s asleep already. but that just seems mean – and gross, not to mention a sure-fire recipe for bad diaper rash… change him? but that would wake him up and he might not go back to sleep.  hmmm…

eventually we decided to try and change him in his bed in the dark, so as to give us the best chance of getting it done without waking him. dave, by default of having the longest arms, was designated the changer. i got the diaper ready and warmed up the wipes in my hands.

well, he did it! dave managed to flip him over, get his jammie pants off, change, wipe and re-dress micah, all without waking him up. YES!  score one for the parents!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

changes of season

in my old age maturity, i’ve come to really appreciate the rhythms that flow throughout the year, bringing the seasons and their changes and uniqueness and the varying ways these affect our lives. when i was younger, i always said i liked summer the best, because i liked warm weather. i held to this until a year or two ago, when in the spring, we were driving down a road and i was practically jumping out of my seat with excitement over the beautiful flowering trees and the other deciduous trees which were starting to get their leaves. that combined with the vigil i start keeping in late january when the first little green peaks of what will be daffodil leaves poke their way out of the frozen ground caused dave to point out that he thought my favorite season was really spring. he’s got a point. so i’ve thought about it, trying my best to come up with a firm ‘favorite’, and i can honestly say that it’s impossible! the closest i could come would be to identify a least favorite season, which would probably have to be winter because i find coats to be bothersome and i don’t really like being cold. BUT, with winter comes a chance for snow. and if you want to see me REALLY get all crazy-excited, just tell me there’s a chance of snow in the forecast! seriously. i LOVE snow. i could sit at the window and watch it fall for HOURS. no, really. HOURS! there is something so incredible about seeing a familiar landscape, such as your own front yard, completely transformed by a blanket of white. i love the way it smells when it’s going to snow. i love the way everything is so quiet. even in the middle of the busy suburbs, it makes me think of my favorite robert frost poem, stopping by woods on a snowy evening. “the woods are lovely, dark and deep…”

but i digress…

now it is fall. leaves are changing from that long-awaited green to beautiful shade of yellow, red, orange and brown, spiders hang in webs everywhere imaginable, my pumpkins are ripening, it’s windy out and we’re building fires to keep the house warm. i love all this too.

this change of weather is always hard on the kids though. for the past four months or so, they’ve made very little distinction between their play indoors and out. they’ve roamed freely between the house and yard with little thought to it. now they are irritated by having to be bothered with impediments like shoes and jackets. it’s like there’s a conscious decision that has to be made whether to go out or not, whereas before, the only real distinction was the surface under their bare feet and that they could be louder.

i suppose this will seem like a small transition, come hat and mitten weather! ;)

Monday, September 28, 2009

bad blogging

so, i’ve been really bad about blogging lately. apparently i’m not the only one since hardly any of my bloggy friends post anything anymore either…

my excuse is different lately though… it’s not that i have nothing on my mind or nothing i want to write about, it’s that the stuff stirring around in my mind is of a nature that it would probably offend, shock or alienate most people who would read it.

am i the only one who does this? do other, seemingly normal, people out there walk around with thoughts in their heads that are so different from the actions of the masses that the sheer thought of people acting on them in any sort of numbers would cause some sort of major upheaval in the way our society lives? or is it just me? am i some sort of revolutionary or prophet, too afraid of saying what’s really on my mind, so as to make my ideas and opinions completely irrelevant? probably so. i guess i’m just wondering if anyone else ever feels like that.

somehow or other i’ve always felt like i was in the minority for one reason or another. true, i’m a caucasian, american female. i was raised in a middle-class household. i had two parents, one brother, and a dog. from a statistical standpoint, i’m pretty run-of-the-mill. i should fit in. and for the most part, i do a pretty good job of looking the part. when i was younger, all i wanted was to fit in. to be just like everyone else. i was tired of sticking out like a sore thumb for one silly reason or another… usually WAY amplified in my immature mind’s eye. NOW i kind of want to stick out, but for a real reason. maybe my whole, not quite normal, life has all just been preparation. training in not fitting in…

but i’m starting to get to contemplative here, and nobody wants to read that. like i said, this isn’t good blog material.

i really do want to write this stuff down though. i just don’t really have an appropriate venue for it. perhaps i’ll go back to my old days of journaling… only this time the pages won’t be filled with whichever stupid guy i had a crush on and how mean my mom is because i can’t see whatever stupid movie it is i wanted to see. maybe i’ll start another blog that nobody gets to read. just for my thoughts. who knows. maybe, after i die, someone will find this stuff and realize how really brilliant i was and the world will change. probably not, but it’s a fun thought. ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

God’s bounty in MY yard!

this is yesterday’s harvest…087

yup. the garden is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. these are just some of the 100’s of cherry tomatoes i’ve brought in in the last month. i’ve had 2 big tomatoes before yesterday, but HOLY COW! i think i’ll need to share those. this is one of 2 red cabbages i’ve got. it’s beautiful! we had some in our salads last night. YUM! dave and shane were good sports and tolerated it. layla was ecstatic, as was i. and micah just ignored it (as he does with most food). that was just yesterday! i don’t think the other one will be as good, since it got attacked early on by some sort of bugs and still looks kind of pathetic. but we shall see.

looking back, we’ve had 2 full meals’ worth of green beans (one of which i tried to steam w/out any water, so that was a bust). kind of pathetic, considering i’m doubtful we’ve got more than a few beans left on the plants. the crows were out to get me this year and pulled out or plucked off most of my plants just after they sprouted. but the survivors were fruitful, there just weren’t enough of them. next year, i’m definitely switching to pole beans. the bush beans just don’t produce long enough.

my 1 cucumber plant gave me 6 or 7 wonderful cucumbers. i was ready to call it done, but yesterday i discovered new leaves, fresh flowers, and baby cucumbers starting on it! i’m so excited.

i’ve had a little lettuce. my first 3 green lettuce plants did okay at first, but when we got back from our trip to california, something had eaten them. the red lettuce that angie gave me disappeared and then came back about a month later. i’ve had a few little leaves off of them, here and there, but they never got very big, and now a few of them are starting to bolt. oh well, they added a little color to our salads.

i’ve also got 2 ‘big’ pumpkins and 3 mini pumpkins that are on my front porch. there are a few more mini’s on the vine that i’m waiting to ripen up a bit before cutting them. there’s 10 or so more big ones in various stages of green and orange.

and then there’s the squash… i didn’t plant squash. well, i didn’t intend to plant squash. my dad had several pumpkin starts in his greenhouse that he gave me. i told him that i ONLY wanted pumpkins, no zucchini or squash this year. well, either one of those starts was a squash, or i had one volunteer from the squash i grew (and let rot on the vine because we don’t eat it) last year, but i’ve got squash. LOTS OF SQUASH! i’ve got a couple almost ready to harvest, and 10 or more still getting bigger. sheesh! murphy’s law, right?

what else? i salvaged a fair amount of strawberries from the slugs and my freezer is FULL of bags of frozen raspberries, just waiting to go on ice cream or into yogurt. YUM!

contrary to my early predictions, this year’s garden has been almost a complete success. my snap peas were a bust, thanks to the deer who couldn’t leave them alone. as soon as the plants got big enough to produce any peas, they would eat them. corn was a bust too, mostly because the stupid crows kept pulling them out. the ones that did survive were wimpy and only produced a couple wimpy ears that weren’t really fit for human consumption. and so the search for a good corn variety continues. my blueberry plants had a handful of blueberries on them this year (they were new last year), but the birds got all but about 2 of those. i’m hoping for more next year.

i’m already starting to think about next year’s garden. and the best ways to pest-proof it. i’m totally turning into mr. mcgregor!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

first day of school

so, we started school today.

this is a big deal because it is OUR first day of official homeschooling. you know, here. at home.

most everyone reading this is already aware of the fact that shane has been homeschooled since first grade, but that he has spent the majority of that ‘school’ time, with my mother as his ‘teacher’. this was a fine arrangement, she was willing and more than qualified, and he was learning. but for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being my mother’s current cancer issues, it had become clear that it was time for me to take over. AND,with layla being 4 now, i really wanted to do a little bit more preschool stuff with her.

being a little bit of a chicken flake, i (with much urging from my loving husband) decided the best route to go would be with a packaged curriculum. i figured it would be the most time-effective way to cover what we needed to cover, and be somewhat dummy-proof, but at the same time, having the option to supplement with as much or as little as we wanted to. so we went with switched-on schoolhouse, a computer-based curriculum that covers math, language arts, science, bible, and history/geography. shane was super excited about getting to do his work on the computer, until i informed him that i was also going to make him do some stuff on paper too. oh well.

for layla, i felt more confident (having done this sort of thing for a living) putting together stuff on my own. i’m not super-stressed because she’s so academically motivated anyway and already knows half or more of what a pre-k class would be wanting her to learn. my main areas of focus for her will be learning to write all of her lower case letters and working on letter sounds, numbers, value and patterning, and bible story lessons. i will work in themes, similar to what i did in my classroom, frequently related to seasons/holidays/stuff going on, and filling in with other fun stuff that she’s interested in. i still STRONGLY believe that the best way for her to learn at this age is through play and life experience.

so, today was the day. it didn’t go perfectly, but it went well. as far as glitches go, there were plenty to be had, but we rolled with it. layla woke up at 5am with a cold, later to be discovered that it came paired with a low fever. micah refused to nap. shane started to throw a fit expressed frustration and i had to deliver the first “change your behavior and your attitude or you can go to your room and have to finish this later” warning, which fortunately, he listened to.

but for the most part, things went amazingly smoothly. shane learned about Jesus calling peter to be a disciple, living and non-living things, place value, properties of maps and globes, and read a story about a kid named joey and the sad tree in his backyard. his reading and writing struggles are going to be his main source of frustration as usual, and we need to get him a typing program asap so he won’t have to waste so much time hunting for letters. other than that, he liked the lessons, did well on the questions, and seemed to be interested. i’m going to have him do a daily journal and some extra phonics and reading work, but i’m not going to throw that on him yet.

layla worked on writing letter A’s (may as well start at the beginning), we read a silly story about ‘apple auntie’ to learn the sound A, and did our bible lesson for the day. i didn’t plan much for her because i wasn’t sure how much shane would be needing me as he was learning how his school work was going to work, and because she wasn’t feeling well. she liked the silly story a lot, did good A’s (even lower case ones which she’s been resistant to). but she was upset because there wasn’t anything to color in along with her bible lesson. ***note to self: find coloring pages to complement bible lessons. and probably every other lesson, since it is layla we’re talking about. our first theme will be fall with related topics like apples, garden/harvest, pumpkins and spiders. FUN!

so, day 1 is done and we were blessed.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

latest micahisms

i know i wrote a post about “nonnies” recently (bananas), but i’ve been noticing that micah is starting to abandon his cute baby pronunciations of some things and i want to make sure i write them down before i forget.

  • doko=hot dog (or any similarly shaped object)
  • bopple=apple (similar to layla’s bapples, but not quite)
  • lala=layla (not the teletubby)
  • beebee= baby (usually in reference to dolls, but he got super excited at the library the other day when he saw a real baby and kept pointing and yelling “beebee! beebee!”)
  • gaygake=pancake

there’s no more mama or dada, we’re mommy and daddy, or sometimes even just mom or dad. SO depressing! and the one that’s killing me is “toot toot” is starting to change over to train. sometimes we get “toot toot, train” now. like he has to combine both before switching.

we really like his “what doing?” and “where going?” questions. if you’ve seen phineas and ferb and know isabella’s tagline, “whatcha doin?” that’s the spin you’ve got to put on it. SO funny!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

shane has died and gone to heaven…

so today i went outside to re-park the car. layla wanted use of the driveway, so i moved the car to the strip in front of the yard. as i get out of the car, i hear shane’s voice, “hi mom!” i look up and see this:

036

well, actually, this is on the return trip. when i saw him the first time, the trailer was full of mulch.

doesn’t get much more ‘shane’ than that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

my mind is blank…

i’ve been really bad about blogging lately. i really don’t feel like i have anything interesting to say.

we haven’t been anywhere lately.

no one has been sick or hurt themselves lately.

no one has visited us.

i’m still working on my mom’s shawl, but it isn’t done yet.

really. it’s pathetic. i think we need to take this as a hint and plan to do something exciting sometime soon.

we’re kind of winding down and getting ‘mentally prepared’ for the school year. shane’s curriculum for the year is here and all loaded onto the computer, just waiting for him to start figuring it out (me too). i’ve got stuff floating around in my head about what sort of stuff i want to do with layla this year. it’s still preschool, so i have a very laid back attitude about it. fortunately, she thinks that ‘schoolwork’ and anything that seems to have an academic twist to it is SUPER cool, so there will be no struggle with her about that sort of thing, like there always has been with shane. i think the biggest thing i need to do is figure out what our daily schedule is going to look like, so i can start plugging things into it and make sure we have time for everything.

shane, for sure, is going to be very busy… at least until soccer ends in december. even after. besides his daily schoolwork and chores, he’ll have a couple of classes on monday and wednesday afternoons at leota jr. high with homeschool network. he’ll have the ymca program on fridays (hopefully in the morning this year), piano lessons on fridays (plus daily practicing), 2 hour soccer practices twice a week, plus games on saturdays. goodness! i was thinking of trying to convince him to get back into scouts this year, but don’t really think that would be possible anyway.

so yeah, here we go!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

blessed with good oral health!

well, i made it another 6 months with no cavities!

i had a dentist appointment today. my second in six months, but prior to that, i don’t think i’d been in 4+ years. oops.

i was much less nervous for this appointment than i was for the last one. last time i figured my luck had run out and because i’d been bad about seeing the dentist, this time i’d really ‘pay’ for it. but no. other than a little excessive scraping of tartar (4 years’ worth), everything was fine.

around the time i turned 20, i pretty much assumed, every time i went to the dentist, that this was finally my time for a cavity. i mean, how long really, can one person go without ANY cavities? well, now i’m kind of over that and figure that maybe my teeth are just impenetrable or something. at any rate, every time the dentist comes in at the end of my cleaning, pokes around for a minute and tells me my teeth look great, i breathe a sigh of relief and feel tremendous gratitude for my good teeth.

the no cavities thing is only the beginning of it too.

i have all 4 of my wisdom teeth. they’re fine, straight, and healthy. i may be only 5’1, but i’ve apparently got a big mouth! i’m one of the few people out there that actually has 32 teeth in my mouth!

i never had to have braces or any sort of orthodontic work done. no, my teeth aren’t perfectly straight or anything, but my bite is good, and everything is where it’s supposed to be.

i had a couple of sensitive spots on a couple of my molars a few years ago, but after switching to ‘sensitive’ toothpaste and a battery powered brush, the problem seems to have gone away. (seems i brush too hard when doing it manually.)

the only bad mark on my dental record is a little incident i had when i was in second grade and fell flat on my face on the cement with my hands in my pockets and chipped my two front teeth. well, chipped one, basically broke the other in half. so they are capped and i’ve had to have those caps replaced a couple of times, but that’s about it.

and i need to floss more. :(

but really, i’ve been very blessed, and i’m always reminded of that when i hear other people talking about fillings or crowns or root canals or braces or whatever else they have to deal with. i sure hope it continues!

oh, and if anyone around here doesn’t have a dentist (or one they like), look up gary jarrett in redmond. he’s the only dentist i’ve ever gone to and LOVE him. he’s absolutely the nicest, most gentle man you could ever hope to have poking around in your mouth!

Monday, August 10, 2009

“nonnies”

i LOVE the various words and pronunciations kids come up with when they’re learning how to talk. i also LOVE how those words find their way into the family’s vernacular, and years later, everyone is still saying them.  for the rest of my life, i won’t be able to make skabetti or use the washing shamine without thinking of shane. and when i read about emmy abizaleth in a clifford book, i’ll think of layla.

well now we have nonnies, AKA bananas! micah loves them, so they come up in conversation regularly. he has fun little sentences too: nonnie spill (if he drops it); nonnie done (when he finishes); nonnie peel (also when he’s done because it means he wants to give me the peel). so cute.

i admit this a little sheepishly, but the reason i think this one will find a permanent place in family isms, is because we play a lot of mario kart lately. yes, my name is rachel, i am anti-sit-on-your-butt-and-stare-at-a-screen entertainment, and i LOVE mario kart. there, i admitted it.

anyway, anytime micah sees a banana in a race (which if you know mario kart, you know this is frequent) he points and yells “NONNIE!” he gets especially excited if someone gets the 3 bananas that follow them around.

 600px-MKwii_TripleBanana

yup, nonnies. super cute. thanks micah!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

boobs

this has been floating around a lot of facebook lately. thought it was worth posting. i honestly can’t believe this is an issue… but i guess the fact that it is is just further proof of how backwards our society is. we worship sex, but hate children… ironic, huh?

anyway. this is at least amusing, but so true!http://www.cafemom.com/journals/read/1501574/Breastfeeding_is_Offensive

Monday, August 3, 2009

stuff…

i have a lot swirling though my mind right now. what else is new, right? i’m a thinker. that’s what i do. often, i’m an overthinker, which leads to it’s own troubles. but all too often, i spend too much time thinking, and not enough time doing. such is the life of a thinker, i guess.

the main theme of my thoughts right now is stuff.

i have way too much of it. everyone i know has way too much of it. we complain about our stuff. we don’t know what to do with our stuff. we have garage sales, where we try to make money getting other people to buy our stuff. we pay for storage units to keep the stuff that won’t fit in our houses. we wish for bigger houses, so there would be room for all our stuff. every week, we put an enormous can out on the street, full of the packaging our stuff came in, and pay someone to haul it away in a truck to a landfill full of everyone else’s stuff.

one of my biggest complaints about myself and about my life is that i’m disorganized, my house is always a mess, and i feel overwhelmed and lazy because of it. why is this? sure, i spend too much time thinking, and not enough doing, right? but really, how much time would it take me to tidy up my house and keep it clean if it weren’t for all the stuff? have you ever noticed, when you move out of a place, how much easier it is to clean it when it’s empty? cleaning is a huge pain in the butt because you have to organize, move around, sort through and do something with ALL the stuff first! and then you have to clean. i hate vacuuming. why? not because vacuuming itself is so hard, but because first i have to pick up all the stuff laying around on the floor and put it away. that’s the real chore, not the vacuuming.

i’ve always been one to question the status quo. i look at something that’s considered standard, something most people consider a no-brainer, and i question it. why do we do this? is this the best way? how did people used to do this? does everyone really do it this way? so my question now is, why all the stuff?

i suppose some of this is coming from the fact that shane and i are pretty well immersed in the ‘little house’ books right now. i am continually amazed and impressed by how resourceful they were, how little they had, and really, how happy they were, despite hardships and the hard work involved in everyday living.

i compare that with my own life, with my own family and wonder why we think all this stuff makes for a better life.

as a mom, i am continually confronted with mom-type frustrations. i don’t think i deal with anything out of the ordinary and my other mom friends will attest to the absolute normalcy of the things my kids make me deal with. on an almost daily basis, i struggle with layla about her clothes. no, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s annoying, and i find it disturbing because it’s an excuse for her to be stubborn and rebellious against me… not exactly character traits i’m trying to foster. but the source of this? too many clothes. she has at least 30 pairs of underwear and easily that many pairs of socks. and don’t bother asking about the rest of her closet, it just gets worse. WHY? why does anyone need this many clothes? i do laundry EVERY day, just so it doesn’t pile up. i don’t really need to, obviously, if layla’s wardrobe is any indication, doing laundry monthly could be a feasible possibility!

and then there are shoes. i personally have at least 15 pairs of shoes that i can think of right now. why do i have all these shoes? well, mainly, to go with all my clothes. i mean really, it would be flat out impossible to wear my brown flip flops on a day that i’m wearing a blue shirt. no, i have to have a pair of blue flip flops for that occasion. why is it we feel that it is not only NOT ridiculous, but absolutely necessary to have all this stuff?

my bathroom is full of stuff too. i have 3 drawers in my vanity (don’t even get me started on why we have a piece of furniture in our bathrooms with that name and we’re not offended by it!) that are full of stuff. the bottom drawer has a hair dryer and 3, count ‘em, 3 different curling irons and (ironically enough) a straightener. i have another drawer full of make up and random other lotions and potions, and then a drawer full of hair thingies and other grooming devices. then there’s the basket on the back of the toilet that’s got lotion and deodorant and hairspray and mousse and gel and shaving cream and toothbrushes and toothpaste and toner and moisturizer and goodness knows what else. now i’m certainly not suggesting that anyone quit using deodorant or toothpaste, but really, how much of this stuff do we need? is any of it really making us better people? is it making happier, really? does prolonging a few wrinkles a few more years really contribute to the good of the rest of the world? why are we so self-centered to think that this stuff has any bearing whatsoever on life?

how is it that we’ve become so vain? so greedy? is it just the sheer availability of stuff that makes us think that we should have more of it? is it that we (even those of us who consider ourselves to be relatively poor) are so wealthy that we feel like we have the ability to fill our lives and our homes up with all this stuff? is it just that we are so completely insecure with ourselves that we see other people with more stuff and think that we’re not as good as them unless we have as much or more stuff than they do? or maybe better or more expensive stuff!

and we teach this to our children. every christmas and birthday and any other excuse we can think of, we shower them with more toys and clothes and STUFF. we think we’re showing love to our children by buying them everything their hearts desire. i think we’re really just feeding this cycle of greed. of wastefulness. this addiction to stuff.

and then we complain that they won’t clean their rooms. that all their stuff is in our way.

we all know how to turn this off. we all have the ability and the power to do so. many of us have felt this urge. this feeling that something is very wrong with the way we live.

but who is willing to change?

i might be. i don’t know. i’ll probably have to think about it awhile longer. i’m a thinker. that’s what i do.

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