Monday, December 31, 2007

7 Random Things About Myself

I was tagged by Irene at Our Little Piece of the World to tell 7 random things about myself. At first I didn't think I could even think of 7 interesting things to tell, so here are 7 maybe not so interesting things about myself:

  1. My favorite food is ice cream. That's how I found My Ice Cream Diary. We have a lot in common with that! I don't just love the common flavors like chocolate or vanilla. I love banana, peppermint stick, chocolate panda paws, and superman. I've cut down over the past year when I realized I couldn't live one day without it. I love it SO much that I even have recurrent dreams about finding a new ice cream shop in town. The last time was just last week when I found a new one in the mall, with hard ice cream.
  2. I cry very easily. I've been getting better about controlling it, though. I can cry when my kids upset me, when they do well at one of their games, or even at a sad commercial. I have to hold back at movies ALL the time.
  3. My favorite TV shows, I guess I will admit to some of them. I love The Bachelor! I'm surprised it keeps coming back each season. It's actually a pretty dumb show, but I can't seem to get enough of it. I love "getting to know" the new bachelor and trying to pick who he will pick. After the show ends I'm always surprised they broke up even though it always ends that way. I love a lot of the reality shows, like Survivor, and the Amazing Race.
  4. I love kid movies, not little kid movies, but older kid movies. When my kids ask me to watch a movie with them, they don't have to twist very hard. When I was in high school, my favorite movie was Sixteen Candles. I watch it so many times that I actually memorised every single word to it, "I love the bus!".
  5. Sometimes I can be very unsure of myself. I worry that someone doesn't like me or is mad at me when I shouldn't. I second guess myself all the time. Am I spending enough time with the kids? Should I read more to them? Should I take them more places? Sometimes I think I'm doing a good job, but then I second guess that, too.
  6. I won't let my kids move away from me! When I lived at home my mom never wanted me to go away to college or move out of town. She use to say, "Why did I have kids I'm just going to have them until they're 18 and never see them again! What a waste!". I was afraid to challenge her on that. I thought she'd never speak to me again if I did. I ended up living at home and going to a nearby college, and now I live two minutes down the road from her. Now, at 37, I completely agree! I talk to my mom every day. I see her all the time. She babysits when I need her. She'll run the kids homework over to their school when they forget it. She comes over to take care of the kids when I'm sick and my husband is at work. She picks things up for me at the store when she goes. We help her out, too. My husband goes over to help carry things out of the house, or to fix something. He appreciates living close to them, too. This is how I want to live when my kids grow up. My husband's mom moved only one minute away from us. His brother lives across the country, and my sister, the one who tagged me, was the rebel. She lived at home for college, but moved away the first chance she could after college. She still lives out of town, though only 1 hour away now, and guess what? My mom still talks to her.
  7. This goes hand in hand with number 6. I'm turning into my mom! Just ask my sister, or my husband, or especially my brother in law. I don't want my kids to ever move out of town. I read mostly nonfiction now, other than Harry Potter and John Grisham books, of course. I'm a tree hugger (not literally). I love to cook. I always have her words of advice in my head, "Never give up on your kids until the day you die." My husband just told me that my sister said I'm my mom, talking through my body. Is that a good thing? I'm not just my mom in only the positive ways. I'm taking after her body. I gain my weight in my middle. Sometimes, when I get really mad about something, I'll pound my fist down on the table, "Don't you ever do that again!". Mom, where did you come from?

Well that was my seven random facts about me. Wow, easier than I thought! I'm suppose to tag 7 people to do this, but I don't know if there are 7 who haven't done this lately. I think I'll tag My Ice Cream Diary, Magirk, Leslie, Wonderful World of Wieners, and Life According to Lizzy. I know, only 5 people, but if anyone else wants to do this, then you're tagged, too.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Raising Teens in a Tough World

I mentioned before that I think it's harder raising kids today. Part of the reason is all the influences in the media and with their friends. There's so many bad examples out there for kids to see. It seems like I write so much about my 14 year old, but I guess it's because she's my main concern now. She's a pretty good girl, but at 14, she's at such an influential age. I'm trying so hard to make sure she stays good, though, I admit, sometimes she still does disappoint me.

Yesterday I took she and her friend to a movie. Her friend wanted to stop off at her house to pick up some money. Her dad forgot to leave her key outside, so she couldn't get in. She called her dad and YELLED at him. At first I didn't do anything about it. Then she kept yelling. "Where's my Key? Well thanks a lot dad! Now your going to have to give her mom $20!" It went on for a while. My eyes got wide. After she got off the phone, she kept talking bad about him. I asked her if she still could go to the movies (because my daughter wouldn't have been allowed to after that). She said she could. Then I asked her if she ever gets grounded. I told my daughter, "You know what I'm getting at." My daughter said, "I'd be grounded." That's right! My daughter's friend said she doesn't get grounded very often, and when she does, she just doesn't speak to him until he let's her off.

I always liked this friend of my daughter's. I think she's a good friend for her, but boy was I surprised to hear her treat her dad like that! I hate for my daughter (and my 3 year old in the backseat) to hear this kind of talk! I didn't think I should just sit there and listen to it without saying anything. She's in my car. I know if she was saying bad words, I wouldn't allow that in my car.

I decided to turn this into a learning experience for my daughter. Later on , when her friend was gone, I told my daughter, "If you ever talked to me like that!...". Then I told her, "Just think. Someday you have a sweet little daughter, she calls you up YELLING at you because you forgot to leave her key outside?" My daughter replied, "I'd slap her face!" OK, she definitely agreed with me. Later that night, when we were watching our Gilmore Girls, she said to me, "I can't believe how she talked to her dad!" I'm glad I made a big deal out of this. It is a big deal, and I don't want my kids to ever talk like this. Sometimes they do say things that I get mad about, but I stop right there and nip it in the bud. I'd never let it continue.

On a lighter note, this is what hubby made for me on Christmas Eve. I told him how much I liked the peppermint mocha's from Starbucks, so he looked up the recipe online and bought all the ingredients. He couldn't find the peppermint syrup, so he just bought creme de mint syrup instead and put green sprinkles on it instead of the red. It was really good. I was impressed! That's pretty romantic for him!

Here's how he made it:

Creme de Mint Mochas

Heat 8 oz. milk in mug.
Add 2 spoons cocoa mix.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons creme de mint syrup.
Fill the rest of your mug with strong coffee or espresso.
Top with whipped cream and sugar sprinkles.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Kids on Vacation = Me on Vacation

I love when the kids are home from school. I look forward to every weekend. I dread Monday mornings. It's easier and definitely more fun when the kids are on vacation.
  • I can stay up late without worrying about getting up early to get the kids off to school.

  • If I'm tired in the afternoon, I can lie down for a bit. I don't have to watch the clock to pick up the kids.

  • If I have to run to the store, I have a babysitter!

  • My daughter empties the dishwasher when she doesn't have school!

  • I can have intelligent conversations during the day with my older kids.

  • Best of all, at night we play games, watch movies, and talk.

I got my 14 year old season one of Gilmore Girls. She only saw a couple episodes before it went the air, but I figured she'd like to watch the first season. Rory is 16, and so far, there's nothing bad on the show. She loves it SO much. I'm starting to really get into it, too. Sounds corny, I know, but it's a nice show for a mother and daughter to watch together. I'm always looking for nice shows for us to watch.

My 3 year old got season 4 of Full House. She opened it and once again said, "I don't want this!". Last night we sat down to watch it and she LOVED it! Michelle is 3 in this season, just starting preschool. D.J. is in 8Th grade, just like my other daughter. She loved it, too. Even my 11 year old son said he was surprised that he liked it. Full House is definitely a wholesome show to watch. We don't have many cable channels, so my youngest has never seen it before.

We rented Pride and Prejudice from the library. It was pretty good, but not as good as the A&E version, obviously. We found ourselves comparing everything. The A&E version was more like reading the book. There was so much more detail because it's six hours long.

I love Harry Potter. I didn't start reading the books until after I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie. Then I started with
The Chamber of Secrets and read the rest of the books. I decided to go back and actuallyread the first in the series,The Sorcerer's Stone. I'm so glad I am. Almost every page is different from the movie. Dudley didn't bring a friend to the zoo with him in the movie! The book even starts differently. If you love Harry Potter and haven't read this book yet, READ IT! I'm trying to convince my 11 year old to read it, but he thinks it will be boring. He loves Harry Potter, but isn't much of a reader, though. I'm still going to try to convince him to. I'm sure if I read it to him, he'd love it.

A few other things I hope to find time to do before the kids go back to school are going out to dinner, seeing National Treasure 2, playing our new games Buzz Word and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and watching Can't Buy Me Love (remember this movie?).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Getting Back to Normal

I'm always sad to see the end of the holidays. I will miss the kids telling me every minute how many days left until Santa comes. Christmas morning I layed in bed wondering why the kids weren't up yet, when I heard my son's alarm go off. I guess he wanted to make sure he didn't miss it! I heard him wake up the rest of the gang. They all quietly came in our room, sleepy eyed, with big smiles on their faces. Then they jumped in bed with us. We enjoyed it! It's not often that your 14 year old daughter will climb in bed with mom and dad!

Santa left the Wii for the kids. My 11 year old looked at me and his eyes started to flood! Later I told him that I noticed that and he said, "I know!". He couldn't believe it either. I'm not much of a video game player (only DDR or Karaoke Revolution) but we actually ran out yesterday to buy a 4th controller so I could pay doubles in tennis with them. Doesn't that sound fun? It's so sad that it's all already over. Will 7 year old still believe next year?

For now, I'm going to try to get my life a little back to normal, or as normal as I can with the kids being off of school. I only exercised once since the kids have been home, and I'm starting to feel fat. I haven't been running because I didn't want to go out in the cold. I know, bad excuse. I have a nice little set up in the back of our basement. We have a big area rug with some exercise equipment on it. We also have a bunch of shelves there with my 3 year old's Barbie toys on them. She loves to play her Barbies while I work out. The other day while I was riding my exercise bike, my 7 year old came down and sat next to me:

"Mom, do you want some of my cheese and crackers? I'll make one up for you!"

"No thanks, sweetie. I need to exercise. Mom's too fat."

"You're fat? Oh, I didn't know that!"

"You're a sweetie!"

That's why I love him so much! So when the neighbor tells my daughter, "He may be a brother to you, but he's a spoiled brat to us", it's makes me want to just cry. But mean girls, that's a whole new subject to blog about.

I'm enjoying my kids wanting me, but I need to get my sleep back to normal, too. My 14 year old is keeping me up late at night. My husband has to get up early for work, so while he goes to bed to saw his logs, my kids and I watch movies or play games. My daughter got season one of Gilmore Girls. I must admit I'm really enjoying it! We watched one episode last night. Then I was going to go up to bed and she said, "We have to watch one more episode!". She had to keep shaking me to keep me awake. It's neat because we talk about the whole show while we watch it. Then when we FINALLY went up to bed, I stopped in her room to see if she was still going to read, and she ended up talking to me some more. For some reason, nighttime is her time to talk, and I hate to interrupt it. She told me she didn't really like the turtleneck sweater that Grandma got her, but she didn't want to hurt her feelings by asking for the receipt. She told me about some of her friends that don't take school very seriously and aren't always the best of kids. She told me how one of her "so called" friends is mad at her for the hundredth time and was picking on another of her friends in gym class, and how bad she felt for this girl. She and another girl were telling this girl to reach up and see how high she could jump, then laughing because they could see her underarm hair (the mean girl subject again). This is all the stuff I don't hear during the day, only at night, when she's ready for bed. I hate to interrupt her to go to bed myself. Finally, I looked at the clock and had to say, "It's 1:00! We have to go to bed!" Luckily the rest of the kids slept in this morning. I think I'll just try to get to sleep even a little earlier tonight, but I don't want to miss out on anything else she wants to talk about! I want to make sure SHE doesn't turn into a "Mean Girl".

Monday, December 24, 2007

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry...

Santa Clause is coming to town! The kids are SO excited. And so am I! I'm really happy with my shopping this year. I still have to go out and get one last thing today. I hope I don't get stuck in the gridlock, like I did a couple of years ago! My 11 year old said he's more excited for this Christmas than he's ever been before. My 7 year old said he can't wait until Santa brings him his Wii. I keep telling him Santa doesn't ALWAYS get everything you ask for. My 3 year old tells me she wants a TV for her room. She'll put the remote right next to her bed. (Yeah right!) My 14 year old said she's actually MORE excited for the January 7th!

In our church, we celebrate the birth of Christ on January 7th. We follow the old Julian calender. Our December 25th falls on January 7th. When I was little, Santa always came on December 25, though. So that is how my family celebrates it today!

My husband's family celebrates Christmas on December 25, so that actually works out great for us. We spend the majority of the time with his family. Yesterday we went to his aunt's house to exchange presents. Do you tell your kids how to act when they open their presents? Well I decided they should be reminded, so they wouldn't embarrass me. I told my youngest two that when they open a present, make sure they thank that person. If it's something they already have, they don't need to tell them that. We will just try to exchange it later. It's just nice that they were thought of.

Aunt D. passed out the presents and informed us that we will open our presents one at a time, starting with the youngest. That was my 3 year old. She picked out the first present she wanted to open, opened it in front of everyone, looked at me and said, "Mommy! I don't want this!" I was SO embarrassed! Even after I reminded her!. My 7 year old looked at me and said, "She wasn't suppose to say that, huh?" Then he opened his present from them and made up for his sister's response. He got a Steeler's sweatshirt and was just thrilled.

Last night, when I went in her room to kiss her goodnight, I told her that it wasn't very nice how she acted and she probably hurt their feelings. She burst into tears. I told her that she has a birthday coming up and they might not want to buy her any presents if that's how she's going to act. She cried even harder and said, "But mom! Tell them not to buy me anymore presents because I don't like what they buy me!" Ugh. She still doesn't get it! In case you were wondering it was a book on CD with a little lamb and baby. Oh well.

So anyway. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Discipline Meme

Karen from The Rocking Pony has tagged me with a meme about disciplining our children (thank you very much, Karen, just kidding). Where do I start? I could write a book about my thoughts. What should I leave out? I agree with Karen that it depends on the situation. I think I'll just make a list of some of my thoughts:
  1. Prevention is key (easier said than done). Before we do anything, I remind the kids of my expectations of them.When I took my daughter to play at McDonald's, I knew I didn't want to have to chase her to leave, so I (and I stress) REALLY reminded her that when I say it's time to go, she has to get her shoes on and go. It worked fine. When I told her it was time to leave, she got her shoes on and we left while the other moms were chasing their kids through the tunnels. If she didn't come, I would have just grabbed her and left and in a few days told her, "I wanted to take you to McDonald's today, but the last time we left you didn't come when it was time to go. Now we can't go today."

  2. High expectations. I try to be perfect. I never will reach that level, but if I have high expectations of myself and my kids, hopefully we'll be good enough. If I want them to do something, I make them do it. For example, if I tell my daughter it's time to get out of the tub and she doesn't, I don't plead with her. I just tell her it's time to get out and pick her up out of it.

  3. Talk "The Talk". I don't want to yell. I literally feel sick if I do. I don't want to ground. I usually end up regretting it or forgetting that I DID do that. I don't want to spank. I don't even like the thought of it. I like to talk instead. (I'm a really big talker. That's one of the reasons why I blog!) I use different tones to set the mood, "Ohhh, WHY would you DO something like that? That REALLY hurt (so and so)", or "That REALLY upset me! Don't you EVER yell like that again when I'm on the phone!". (Are you feeling the tone?) I add the Supernanny's favorite, "Now apologize to me!". I tell my kids the most important thing in this world that I want them to be is GOOD. It's more important than their grades in school or anything.

  4. Think back to when I was little. This is sometimes is a little depressing. I think, "Would I have done this when I was little? What would my mom have done about this." A lot of times I think, "I never would have done this when I was little." The only consolation to this is that I think kids are growing up in a very different world today. There are so many bad examples set by other people and on TV.

  5. Set a good example. Kids learn by example (sometimes unfortunately). I try to talk to them how I want them to talk to me. If I yell, it teaches my kids to yell. I often hear my kids repeating my kind of talk, "Excuse me" and "YOUR MAKING ME VERY MAD!!"

  6. Take a step back and look at myself. Sometimes it's hard to judge how to handle a situation. I try to take a step back and look at myself as if I were someone else that I was giving advice to. I find it's easier to know what to do when I'm looking at someone else rather that myself. Last night when I was shopping, I heard a little girl crying SO hard that she was practically screaming. You could just see the frustration in the mom and grandma. They put the girl in the stroller screaming and quietly kept telling her to be quiet and be good, and the mom kept on shopping. I can understand their frustration. I've been there many times, but standing back and looking at them I can say, "Aww. The poor little girl. She must be SO tired. Let's go home sweetie and get your jammies on and read a story." And LEAVE!

Miche does not spare the rod.

Jo-N wants to be her children's best friend.

Tot's Mom spares the rod and believes in patience.

Huckdoll spares the rod and believes there are more effective yet gentle ways to discipline than spanking.

Kelly at Ordinary Art has a three-step approach that does not always work but leaves tiny tushes mark free.

OhMommy has spanked and never will again.

Amy spanks when necessary.

The Sports Mama found it depended on the individual child and the situation.

Karen thinks that each situation needs dealt with differently.

Maria sets high expectations and likes "the talk".

This meme took me a long time to write today, but I'm glad I did it. It reminded me about how I want to be with my kids ALL the time.

I have to tag 5 people so I think I'll tag: Irene, Marie, Amy, Bia, and Kitty. Write your thoughts. Copy the above paragraph with your own thought attached. Tag 5 new people to do this. Them comment back to me! I'm really interested to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Deserved a Break, at McDonald's

I've been so busy the last couple of weeks, like many other people, getting ready for Christmas. Every day I wake up with a long list in my head of what I want to accomplish. The last thing on my list is to have fun, which I haven't had time to get to.

A couple days ago, I had some errands to do, so I decided to stop at McDonald's with my 3 year old and bring my book along. She loves to play there and I never seem to find the time to read my books. It worked out great! I used my coupons, so I didn't cost very much. My daughter played for quite a while and made lots of new "friends"( which she'll never see again). I thought it might be too busy with all the Christmas shoppers, but it wasn't. It's a small play area, so it wasn't very loud with the kids. I had a chance to read!

This is the book I'm reading right now. It's called Dear Stormy, written by my friend, Stan Sulecki. It's a touching story about a man, who's marriage is on the line, finds a picture in a secondhand store. On the bottom of it is written, "Sunset at Beach 6, to Daddy from Stormy, July 30, 1939". The man also has a daughter nicknamed Stormy, so he sets out to find the meaning of the picture, and the letters hidden in the back of it.

This book is inspired by a picture his own daughter painted of the sunset at beach 6 when she was five years old and his wife's battle with cancer. It's pretty interesting reading from an author whom I know personally. I hear his voice in the book and picture he and his wife while I'm reading it, though he stressed to me, "But my wife never left me!". Stan has been writing this book ever since I met him when our girls were just starting school, so it's SO cool that it's now published. He's even working on a second book!

I actually bought this book for my husband's aunt as a Christmas present. She said she wanted a book for Christmas and she's pretty religious, so I thought this would be perfect! I even had him autograph it for her. I'm glad I did because now that I'm reading it, I KNOW she'll love it. I'm trying to be super careful so it still looks perfect.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Have You Hugged Your Kids Today?

I woke up this morning thinking about what to blog about today. I had it all planned out to write about McDonald's, until I took my son to school. McDonald's will have to wait until another day.

Every morning when I'm taking my 7 year old to school, I see one of my neighbors dropping his daughter off, too. He usually gets there a little before me, so I always see him walking in front of me. He's a really nice person, and he's so cute with his daughter. When almost every parent just pulls up to the sidewalk and drops their kids off (like me), he parks in the parking lot, holds her hand, and walks her all the way up to the door. He ALWAYS gives her a kiss and a hug, then takes her pink princess book bag off his back and gives it to her. Kind of sounds like I'm a stalker, huh? It's just so cute I can't resist watching them!

This morning when I was dropping my son off, I noticed there was a father in the car in front of me dropping his kids off, too. I could see the three colorful hats of the kids in the car. My husband has been at work for hours by now. Is he a stay at home dad? How early did he have to get up this morning to get the kids ready. My son in the backseat didn't have a hat on. I was sitting there with wet hair from my shower. Maybe I should get up earlier and be more on the ball like him. Then as we got up to the drop off point, his car doors fly open, and he yells to the kid in the backseat, "GET OUT!". Then he yells to the kid in the front seat, "GO, GO!". The other kid in the backseat stopped to tell him something and the man looked thoroughly annoyed. The boys hat fell off on the road, and he barely picked it up before the man drove off.

Next, I pulled up to the drop off point. I actually could feel tears starting to come.

(Gulp) "Can I have a kiss?" (He doesn't like to kiss me when anyone at school can see.)

He kissed me.

"I love you! Have a good day!"

"OK. Bye mom."

Whenever I see parents acting like that to their kids, it just makes me so sad and I have to hug my kids. I'm trying not to be too judgemental, though. I'm not the most perfect mom. I lose my patience. Maybe he has a lot of stress in his life right now. Did he just lose his job? Did someone just yell at him? Did his kids do something REALLY bad? Maybe. But it's still so sad to see kids starting their day off at school like this.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kid's Favorite Meatloaf

When I first got married, my mom gave me one of her cookbooks because I had NONE. This is the one she gave me. I have really gotten my use out of it! Can't you tell? I love the recipes because they are pretty simple, but very good at the same time. Some of my favorites include: zucchini bread, peanut butter cookies, chili, beef stew, and meatloaf.

All my kids just love my meatloaf. They actually fight over who gets the last piece. Well OK, I guess not ALL my kids. I don't count my 7 year old because he only eats the healthy meats like hot dogs, pepperoni, bologna, chicken fingers, and chicken wings. But anyway, this really IS a great kid favorite recipe. My 11 year old once told me he doesn't know why kids always groan about meatloaf because he loves it so much. I told him it was because they haven't had MY meatloaf. The secret to it is the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard topping. It's a cheap recipe, and I always have the ingredients for it on hand.


2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs (I use about 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs.)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons snipped parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/4 cup ketchup (This cookbook still calls it catsup!)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard (I usually used prepared.)

Preheat oven to 350'. Combine eggs and milk; stir in crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, sage, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add beef; mix well. Pat into a 8x4x2 inch loaf pan. Bake 1 1/4 hours. Spoon off excess fat. Combine ketchup, sugar, and mustard; spread over meat. Return to oven for 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

l'm Almost Ready!

Well, I finally feel like I'm ready for Christmas. We just got the tree up this weekend. It looks pretty good. My daughter took this picture with her new camera. Look carefully, there's a present under there for YOU! All my Christmas cards are sent out. I have a few last minute presents to pick up. What does Santa leave in your stockings? I wrapped all my presents. This is the earliest I did my wrapping. I baked some cookies, but I hope to get a lot more baked tomorrow. I don't understand it. I had a whole container filled in the freezer. Now it's only half full! How could that have happened?

I love to watch Christmas movies. I try to see at least one every year around Christmas. I had a couple of movie passes to use by the end of the year, so we went to go see Fred Clause today. It was cute. My 7 year old loved how he rode in the back of the sleigh to go to the North Pole to visit Santa. He wondered how all the elves become elves. My 3 year old got a little bored.

"I have to go to the bathroom."

"OK. In a minute. The movie's almost over."

"I have to go pee and poop!"

"Sh! OK."

We went to the bathroom.

"I was just teasing. I don't have to go."

This is why she'll be with grandma when we go see National Treasure 2.

Tonight we watched Survivor . I couldn't believe Todd won! I thought for sure it was Amanda. While we were watching it, my 14 year old asked me if I ever talk to myself. I told her I do. I say things like, "Now, where did I put that...", or "Why did I just do that? That was really dumb." She told me she talks to herself all the time. She said she's getting really good at it now and that she can do it silently in her head. At the bus stop in the morning when everyone's talking to each other, she just has a conversation with herself, and she actually finds herself having fun! "OK then!", I said. I told her I just had to add that to my blog! Isn't that funny?

I keep a notebook next to my bed. I use it kind of like a journal. I don't write down everything that happened that day, just usually short things that I want to remember, like funny things the kids said to me: Do you talk to yourself mom?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saving on Groceries

As I've written before, I have been saving a TON on groceries lately. I've gone from spending $200/week to $100/week for a family of 6. (This does not include the kids lunches for school. It cuts down on a lot of stress to just let them buy their lunch and I'm not buying food that gets eaten before I get a chance to pack them.) Now that I'm playing my "Grocery Game", I'm having fun watching my savings grow!

Every time I see an article about how to save money shopping, I read it. I'm always looking for a good new tip. I usually don't learn anything new. Amy asked me if I had any tips on saving on grocery shopping and I thought, that's a great thing to blog about. I'll share what works for me, and you can share what works for you. I'm always looking for new ideas (other than doing the obvious like buying what's on sale and using coupons). Here's some of mine:

1.Bringing my calculator. This was my friend Dee's idea. I use a budget of $100 that I don't want to go over. If I get to the end of my shopping and I'm over, I have to put things back until I'm under $100. This is my "Grocery Game".

2.Not many snacks. I don't buy the kids favorite snacks much anymore. They really don't need them. I want them to eat better at meals. Snack should eaten just to tide you over until the next meal. If I buy cookies, they eat the whole box in one day. If I buy pretzels, they only eat them because they're hungry and can't wait until the next meal.

3.Using supplies sparingly. I count make-up and cleaning supplies in with my grocery budget. They are expensive! I use every last drop of make-up until it's all gone. I use every scrap of lotion. I try to hold off buying more until I absolutely have to. I use just a tiny bit of cleaners to clean. Cleaning supplies are my gold. Sometimes I dust using a damp cloth so I don't use too much furniture polish. I use just a quick spray in the bathroom. Did you know dish detergent works great for cleaning off soap scum? It's cheap, too.

4.No juice boxes, cans of pop, or fruit snack. I use to buy these and my kids just ate and drank them all up because they were there, not because they needed them. I only buy 1 container of apple juice a week and two liters of pop (once in a while). I want to kids to drink water if they're thirsty.

5.Cheap fruits and vegetables. Every week I buy the ones that are the cheapest, like lettuce, bananas, apples, carrots. I only buy apple cider when it's on sale. I buy more expensive fruits and vegetables when they're on sale, in season, or when they fit in my budget.

6.Eat leftovers. I REALLY eat leftover. If there's a piece of meat from dinner leftover, it's my husbands lunch for the next day. If there's leftover pork, I'll make BBQ pork sandwiches. I even eat the kids leftover breakfasts! I never buy anything special for myself for breakfast because there always seems to be some waffle pieces and orange juice sitting there when the kids go to school, usually just enough for me.

7.Have super cheap dinner nights. A few nights a week we eat REALLY cheap dinners. I'll make french toast sprinkles with cinnamon and applesauce, Kraft mac n cheese with peas, hamburgers on the grill (sometimes with bread as the bun).

8.Do without. Leslie said she does this, too. Sometimes, if I can, I just do without certain items so I can make it to my next shopping day. If I notice we're running low on milk, we might just have water with our dinner. You only need 3 servings a milk a day and one serving is 1 cup, a pretty small glass. My kids get their dairy from a lot of other things, too, like cheese. I'm sure they already get plenty of calcium.

9.Limiting food. Believe me, my family is hardly starving. I think there's nothing wrong with not letting the kids eat as much as they want at dinner. My husband looked at my little meatloaf I made once and said that was never going to be enough for all of us. I told him there would be plenty if we had no more that two slices each. Why should we eat until we're stuffed?

Now, you can't eat like this all the time. I love to cook. I bake a ton of Christmas cookies. I just try to offset the costs a little when I can. I have my favorites that I refuse to give up, but I like to think about Laura Ingalls and how she ate. They ate whatever they had, sometimes just molasses and bread. And Laura lived to a ripe old age! Hopefully you might be able to use one of my ideas about how I watch my grocery bills. Does anyone have any other ideas that work for you?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Update on past posts

I thought I'd give an update on a few of my past posts:

About yesterday... My 7 year old came home from school perfectly fine! When I picked him up, he was walking down the street with his friends and waved goodbye. He jumped in the car.

"Hi! How was your day?"

"Hi mom! Good."

He questioned if big brother was home. I told him yes and he just said, "I knew it!". That was all. Then he ran off to his friends house to play when we got home. I'm really glad I sent him yesterday. This morning his brother felt better and went to school, but he still tried to tell me that he was going to throw up. When he walked out the door he forgot all about throwing up and was fine.

About my new budget... It's going pretty well. Considering it's Christmas shopping time, I can't worry as much this month because I have to buy presents. But the grocery shopping, wow! I took my calculator with me to the grocery store for the past two weeks and saved a TON of money! Usually my goal is to spend $150/week for my family of 6, but when I actually added up what I spent it was closer to $200! That's $800/month! For the last two weeks I spent only $100. I think that's pretty good. If I keep it up that will be a savings of $400/month. What do others spend on their groceries?

About potty training... My 3 year old is not doing very well at staying dry at night. By the time I go up to bed (which has been pretty late because I'm always on the computer), she's usually already wet. I guess waking her to go has helped, but she still has a way to go.

About my 3 year old getting into everything lately... She all of a sudden is SO much better! I'm relieved. She has been going right to sleep at night, without getting out of bed and going into big sister's room and ruining her stuff. She hasn't sprayed her hair with perfume. She hasn't painted her nails. She hasn't broken her brother's Nintendo DS. Life is good.

Just got to work on 7 year old not hating school, and keeping 3 year old dry at night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Had a Bad Day"

As I've written about before, my 7 year old just HATES school. This morning my 11 year old felt sick and I told him he could stay home. Well, suddenly 7 year old gets very upset. Why does he get to stay home? Then he has every excuse why HE should stay home, too.

"Do you know what will happen if I let you stay home from school too many times? They'll put me in jail!"

"That's dumb."

I very calmly told him he had to go to school. He started crying. I ran upstairs to take my shower. He followed me up the stairs.

"I have a fever! Can you at least take my temperature?"

I felt his head.

"You don't have a fever. Go brush your teeth."

Boo Hoo!!!

Out of all 4 of my kids, he hates school the most, always has. My 14 year old loves it. She didn't want to miss another day being sick. My 11 year old can take it or leave it. He loves his bus ride, a few of his teachers, and getting all A's. Even my 3 year old likes to play school all the time. She picks out her book bag in every store we're at. Seven year old - just plain HATES it. I really feel sorry for him. I know I wouldn't want to have to go to a job every day that I hated.

Every morning, I try to be as cheerful as I can. I wake him up early enough, so he's not rushed and has a little time for himself. I pick out clothes that are his favorites - comfy sweatpants and a hoodie. I make him hot cocoa with his breakfast. I try not to ever say the words, "Hurry up!". I cheerfully tell him to have a good day as he gets out of the car. All these things really help. But today, nothing was helping, knowing that his favorite big brother was home.

"What if I have a cough?"

"Then you'll just be coughing in school."

"What if I get diarrhea?"

"You won't!"

I had to put his shoes on myself. I had to zip his jacket. He just stood there sobbing. The whole way to school he just sobbed. As we pulled up to the doors he wiped his tears and blew his nose.

"You just want him to stay home with you so you can play games with him all day!"

"Don't be ridiculous. Besides, I'm going to take him to school today when he feels a little better."

"He better be at school when I get home or I'm going to be mad."

Or he's going to be mad? Is that me talking? I need to watch my words better! I hate dropping him off at school like this. I wanted to keep him home because I felt so bad for him, but what would that teach him? Poor thing.

When I got back home, I emailed his teacher and explained to her about why he looked the way he did today. She messaged me back and told me they had a nice calm day planned: watching Frosty the Snowman in the morning (he likes that, good) and listening to Christmas music in the afternoon. Christmas music? He hates music about as much as he hates school! He covers his ears and shuts his eyes sometimes. Maybe I should have kept him home!

I guess he's going to be "mad" anyway when he gets home. Big brother never made it to school.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas cookies

Here's another one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Not only is there lemon in it, but there's a little orange, too. It makes them super yummy. This is my 11 year old's favorite. He just reminded me about making them. I forgot all about them. I got the recipe from Margaret Peterson in the Taste of Home magazine. If you've never read it, it has lots of really delicious country style recipes. I think I've tried recipes from every single issue that I own!

Shortbread Lemon Bars

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup cold butter

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In food processor, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, and lemon and orange peel. Cut in butter until crumble. Process until mixture forms a ball. Pat into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Bake at 350' for 12-14 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned.

Combine filling ingredients. Pour over hot crust. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until set.

Combine topping ingredients. Spread over filling. Bake 7-9 minutes or until topping is set.

Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into bars. Makes 3 dozen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Last night we saw Santa! The REAL one! See? From the big bushy beard down to the big black boots?

My husband and I took the kids to our local mall last night to see Santa and were surprised when the real one was actually there! Not a Santa helper, the real one. It was quite exciting.

My 3 year old was fairly typical. She wouldn't sit on his lap. Finally, with some coaxing, she told Santa what she wanted - new play dough, suckers, and some new barbies. Then she wouldn't STOP talking. Santa finally had to tell her she could go get a treat.

For my 7 year old, this was serious business. He told Santa he wanted the Wii system. Santa told him it would fit in his sleigh. Last night when he went to bed, he told me what Santa had said and does that mean he's going to get it. I told him that sounded like it's a good possibility. He also said Santa has cameras set up everywhere to watch all the kids to see if they're good or not.

"Mom. How old are you when you stop seeing Santa?"

"Probably whenever you want to."

"Well I'm never going to stop seeing him. I'm going to be seeing him even when I'm an old man!"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Birthday Mr. Bus Driver!

Today is my daughter's bus driver's birthday. Normally a day we wouldn't know about or even care about, but his birthday is one the kids on his bus WANT to celebrate.

Being a bus driver isn't the most glamorous job, isn't the highest paid, but my daughter's bus driver obviously is happy to have it, and the kids are happy to have him! It's a huge responsibility and involves TONS of patience.

He says good morning to every kid who gets on and goodbye to every kid who gets off. Most of the school's bus drivers assign seats to the kids, not him. That's so important to middle schooler's who are usually not speaking to someone and who have a new best friend every week! He's very patient. At one of the stops, he waits every morning for one of the kids to walk all the down the street to the stop and get on the bus. My daughter asked him, "Doesn't that bother you? Waiting for her every morning?" "Nope, not at all!", he replied. He doesn't flinch with the screaming kids. He is the ONLY bus driver who will allow the kid's friends to ride home on his bus. The parents like that. Then we don't have to drive our kids to their friends house after school.

About a week ago, my daughter said that it was her birthday that weekend and (by the way) when was his birthday. He said it was December 10. She went around to all the kids on the bus collecting just $1 each. Some kids gave more than $1, like $5 and even $8! Some kids none at all. But after a few days she collected almost $30 and is going to buy him a gift certificate for his favorite restaurant - The Olive Garden. I'm sure it's a place he doesn't get to visit very often, living on a bus driver's salary. The kids are going to sing Happy Birthday to him. I'm glad he's going to know how much he's appreciated. Only one little flaw. Daughter's sick today! Oh, well. They'll celebrate it tomorrow. He'll be even more surprised then! Happy Birthday Mr. Bus Driver!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holiday Shopping at School

This week 7 year old had his Holiday Shopping day at school. I just had to tell you how GREAT and FUNNY and CUTE it was.

A few days before their day to shop, he brought home an envelope for me to put money in and check off who he should buy for and how much money to spend on each person. The presents ranged from $.25 - $7.00. We decided he would buy for Mom, Dad, brother, sisters, and maybe Grandma (if he had enough left). I put $10 in the envelope. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to get very much for that amount, but my other son wanted money too, so I told them to just buy what they could (living on a budget, remember).

Well, as I drove over to pick him up after school, I saw him walking down the street with two plastic bags stuffed to the top with presents! He looked so funny! He got in the car and told me all about how he bought presents for everyone. When we got home, he went right to work wrapping.

"This is what I got for you, mommy!" ( It was a box of candy.)

"It was only $1!" ( I was happy. I love candy. )

"Don't you want to wait until Christmas to give this to me?"

"No, I have another present for you."

"How many kids do you think gave their mom's their presents today?"

"Ummm. Probably everyone!"

Then he showed me what he got everyone else: a "golden" necklace for Grandma for only $!. (It was actually really pretty!), a chess game for Dad, a watch for little sis, boxes of candy for big sis and brother, a football for himself, a cup filled with candy for himself again, and another box of candy for the whole family, oops, he forgot (and hit himself in the head), this last of candy he actually bought for himself, too.

"I thought you were suppose to be buying US presents. "

"I did, but they told me I had $3 left to spend on myself!"

Well OK, I guess. He had so much fun. The event was VERY organized. They had all the presents arranged in separate sections for moms, dads, grandmas, etc. They took donations of candy to make some of them. There were volunteers to help the kids pick out the presents. All the the items for sale were really nice things! Obviously they cost less than their retail price. Great job PTA! This project was headed my friend Dee, of course (founder of my new budget).

Friday, December 7, 2007

Living on a Budget

It's official. I'm now on a budget. Husband and I decided we want to start saving more money. Where does it all go? It doesn't seem like we spend that much, but how come we're not seeing it in our savings. We have lots of plans, vacations, college funds, retirement, cottage on the lake. We decided to take a closer look at how we're actually spending our money.

We like our credit card. I put all my groceries, gas, and other expenditures on it and the card gives a percentage back based on how much we spent. I recently received a check for $78! That really was free money. I wouldn't have gotten that check if I had used cash. The problem is, it's too easy to use the card. We took a closer look at what was put on the card. Our biggest expense - groceries! I almost had a heart attack when I added up what we spend in one month. I DO have 4 kids, but I still think I'm spending too much. That's when I talked to my friend Dee.

Dee told me she's been on a budget ever since she and her husband got married. They sat down and decided how much they can spend each month, and how much will go into their savings and emergency fund. They call their emergency fund anything that comes up each month that they weren't planning on , such as fixing their car all the way down to a birthday present! For Christmas, she has a Christmas club that she contributes to all year. She only spends the money allotted for it. I asked her how she handles the grocery bill. She told me she has an amount she can spend at the store and uses a calculator to add everything up as she puts it in her cart. She puts some extra items that she wants, but doesn't actually need in the corner of her cart. If she gets to the end of her shopping and sees she's over her limit, she has to put back some of the items in her "extra" corner until she's back within her budget. Dee said it's fun. It's kind of like a game.

Really? Hey, I like games! I could do that! My husband and I decided on a grocery budget. This week I even decided to spend $50 less than that, to make up for some of the Christmas presents I was buying. I took a calculator to the grocery store. I entered the price of EVERYTHING, right down to the price of my eggplant. I must admit, I felt a little embarrassed at first. What would people think of me and my calculator? I tried hiding it at first. Then I realized what Dee was talking about. It really was like a game! I found myself watching every single penny I spent! I wanted 4 bananas, so I looked for the smallest ones I could find. This was the first time I bought generic ketchup. It was so much cheaper! I never even looked at the price of sprinkles for my cookies before, $2.99? Forget it, I'll think of something else. Would you believe I came in $6 below what I wanted to spend? By watching EVERYTHING, I had enough money to buy supplies for Christmas cookies and some fish that I really wanted. It really wasn't that hard. I had fun doing it, too. Also, by the time I got to the end of the store, I didn't care who saw my calculator. My husband is very happy about this, too. A calculator, such a simple thing.

Everyone I know tells me they spend so much on groceries, too. Who says, "Honestly, I don't spend very much on food?" Try this the next time you go to the store. It's amazing. I can't believe I haven't tried this before. I'm going to call Dee now to thank her. THANK YOU!

Please tell me any budget tips you have!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas cookies

I just started baking my Christmas cookies last night, so I thought I'd share my favorites each time I make them:

Peanut Butter Kisses

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces kisses or peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350'. Beat shortening and peanut butter. Add sugar and brown sugar. Then add egg, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this to mixture. Shape into balls. Roll in sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes. Immediately place kiss or peanut butter cup on each cookie. Cool on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen.

*This is SUCH a good recipe because it uses extra peanut butter. I can't stop my kids from eating them!

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars

2 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 egg
2 cups chocolate chips (12 ounces)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
10 ounces toffee bits

Stir together flour and brown sugar.Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs.Add egg, mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 cups chips. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture.Press remaining mixture onto greased 13x9x2 baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour condensed milk over hot crust. Top with 1 1/2 cups toffee bits. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture, then 1/2 cup chocolate chips on top. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup toffee bits. Cool and cut into bars.

*These are one of the faster cookies to make. I usually bake these along with another kind of cookie. They are my husband's favorite.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Snowy Day

Last night it started to snow a little. The kids couldn't wait. They got their snow pants on, even though the grass was just barely covered. This is what we woke up to today: a lot of snow. Eleven year old happily shoveled the sidewalk before school. One of his jobs is to shovel the sidewalk before and after school in the winter. We have a plow service to do our big driveway, so I don't have to shovel at all anymore!

Last year, I knew I needed new tires. If there was snow on a hill, I just barely could get up it. The road to my son's school is very steep and windy. One time last year, I went to pick the kids up from a dance. I barely got up the hill! All the cars behind me were on my tail, driving up the hill with no problem at all. My husband says I just need to take lessons in how to drive in the snow. I admit, he does have a small point, but I don't believe he could have done much better than me that day. Tonight's agenda: new tires! I'm excited! I'll be able to drive again!

This is my little shed in my yard. Last year I bought two wreaths with red berries to put on the doors. This year I want to put icicle lights around the roof, but I have to figure out a way to string the lights out there, without the kids tripping over the cords. I think it would be so cute! I can see my shed from my mudroom, my kitchen cooking area, and my kitchen tale. Also, you can see the shed when you drive down one of the side streets.

As for my picture taking abilities, I'm now determined to learn more about photography, thanks to Tammy and her beautiful pictures on her blog and Irene for her photo tips. I REALLY don't know much about it, so I'm now going to learn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Posting Pictures on Your Blog

Well, everything is pretty much back to normal today. All the kids are back in school. My seven year old was still hoping to be sick today. He asked me what would happen if he wakes up sick. I told him it won't happen. What's to hate in 1rst grade? It's sad.

I know there are many of you who post pictures of yourselves and your families on your blog. I haven't done that, yet. I guess it just worries me a little. I think about doing it, but just haven't done it. I enjoy looking at everyone's pictures. I like to see what everyone looks like. I enjoy seeing the cute and sometimes funny pictures of your kids. It also makes me feel like I know these people a little better when I can picture what you look like.

I think one of the reasons I haven't posted my pictures is because when I first started my blog, I was afraid someone I knew would see it. Now, after reading so many other blogs, I realize there are a lot of people like out there like me. I don't care anymore who sees my blog. Last night a good friend of mine, who I don't get a chance to see enough, called me and told me she found my blog. "Oh, uh, you did?" She said she loved it and that it's a great way for her to keep in touch with what's going on with my family. I'm glad she liked it! But then I told her that now I'm going to have to make sure I don't post something bad about her! (jk, jk)

This past weekend I emailed an old friend of mine, a former ballet dancer now turned opera singing cousin (yes I'm talking about you). I mentioned that I'm now blogging and he said he wanted to see it. My mom said it's a little personal, like when I mentioned what my 3 year old put in her underwear. I don't care. I don't think he'll be offended by hearing my "girl" stories. Besides, I'm glad he'll get a chance to learn what's going on in my life. We use to be such good friends. When our families would visit from out of town, we would stay up all night talking about the facts of life. Now we lead such different lives. He moved away from his hometown to become an opera singer in NYC. I live just a couple minutes from where I grew up, and am a stay at home mom to 4 kids.

One blogger recently questioned if other bloggers thought they would be friends with the people they have met online. I didn't comment, but have thought about that question a lot lately. I think that's the best thing about blogging. It gives you the chance to talk to people that you may never have the chance to in real life. You can talk to people all over the world. You get to know about someone else without judging everything about them. Sometimes it's hard to get to know people in real life just because of how they look. For example, I once had a job where my boss looked SO mean. She never smiled or joked. Because we worked right next to each other, it forced me to get to know her. I found out she wasn't mean at all. She was just unhappy at the moment with her life. She was extremely patient and always asked me questions about myself. Also, did you ever meet someone that looked like a nice person and at thought they were someone you would want to become friends with, only to discover later that they weren't as nice as they looked?

Well this is why I love blogging. I love reading other people's blogs and reading the comments I get! Maybe someday I'll post some pictures of my family.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sick Kids and the Sick Bed

I hate Monday mornings. Even though I don't have a job to go to, I still have to go to bed earlier Sunday nights and get up early to get the kids ready for school. Last night I was up late on the computer, as usual, so when my 14 year old came in my room at 6:15 and said she was so tired and had a headache, I secretly was happy to be able to go back to sleep for another hour. "That's why I hate sleepovers!", I told her. "You never get enough sleep! You're not going to have another one for a very long time." I let her go back to sleep for 2 more hours and decided to just take her to school late. Yes, I still have to get up with her. I want to make sure her clothes match good enough, she doesn't forget anything, her hair is neat, and make sure she gets out the door in time to catch the bus.

At 7:15 my 11 year old walked my room. "Mom, I feel like I'm going to throw up." "Well, get in the bathroom then!" He didn't throw up, but did not feel well. At 7:50 I woke up my 7 year old for school. "Time to get up." "OK. Hey, why is (11 year old) still here?" "He doesn't feel well." Suddenly 7 year old, AKA the spirited child who REALLY hates school says, "Mom, I don't feel well either." "Well, you still have to go to school." My 7 year old hates going to school SO much, so I like to wake him up early enough, so that he has a little free time for himself, and he doesn't have to rush, and I don't have to yell. Well, with the other kids at home, my whole morning routine was off. He was talking to everyone, slowing himself up. Then when it was time to go he said, "Could you at least take my temperature first?" He can't bear the thought of going to school when everyone else was home. I felt his forehead, "You're fine", then said the words I try NOT to say in the morning, "HURRY UP!".

I got 7 year old and 14 year old off to school. The 11 year old is staying home. That's OK, though. He doesn't miss much school.

When my sister and I were sick when we were kids, we got the treat of sleeping in our parent's room on their couch. My mom could keep an eye on us all night and catch our throw up in "the bucket". After I got married and we moved into our 2nd house , we only had 2 kids and 3 bedrooms. Then we had our 3rd child and we just let the boys share the bigger bedroom. Four years later I found out I was expecting baby #4. Now was the perfect time to put the addition on. I wanted my new bedroom large enough to put a couch in it. One person told us, "Why would you put a couch in your room? That's such a waste!" She never had kids, so she didn't know what it was like watching them all night when they are sick. Our couch is the greatest thing! It serves as the "sick bed", extra living room for watching tv, study room, nap time getaway, and a place to have a discussion with my husband for a couple minutes until the kids find us. I don't know how we ever lived without one!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today was my daughter's birthday. She turned 14. It's hard to believe I'm now the mother of a 14 year old! I remember going to the hospital early in the morning on December 1, 1993. I knew I was going to have the baby, but when I actually DID have her I thought, "OMG! I just had a baby!" It was the best day of my life. I cried so hard that when I called my mom, she thought the baby had died!

I've heard so many people say, "Just wait til they become teenagers!". I have to say I agreed with that, but only for a very short time with her. I think when she first entered middle school, she tested the boundaries a little. She was trying to find a place to fit in. I nipped that in the bud! Now, in 8th grade, she is very sure of herself, has lots of friends (nice ones), gets the best grades she ever had, and is a very good girl.

I love her being a teenager. I'm a little sad to see her grow up, but I have 3 younger kids to still watch grow up. Now she's old enough to have lots of conversations with me. We like to watch the same tv shows and movies. She's like my best friend! "Just wait til they become teenagers" has a great connotation for me.

We got her a digital camera and let her have about 10 people over for a party. They all had a great time. It's a good thing we have a basement, though. We put them down there and shut the door tight! They were SO loud! Now I'm letting two of the girls sleep over. I just hope they sleep and don't keep me up. It was a great day, and these supposedly difficult teen years are only getting better.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm happy God Made Us

Just a quick story to tell you about what my 7 year old said to us today:

Son - "Aren't you happy God made us?"

Me - "Yes, I'm happy."

Son - "I'm happy, too."

Then we started talking about where would we be if God didn't make us. Son said we wouldn't even know we weren't here! We wouldn't be anywhere!

So sweet. I guess he was having a good day, and not, "the worst day of my life!"

My mom always said it's not quality time that's important, it's quantity! I wouldn't have had that moment if I wasn't around him enough (we were just cleaning up from dinner). Also, I think, any time with your kids is quality time. Just riding in the car, eating dinner, helping kids with their homework, putting them to bed, EVERYTHING can be quality time.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fear of the Dentist

Reclining in the chair, listening to the easy rock music, opening my mouth so wide that I get lockjaw, scraping my sensitive teeth, shots of Novocain, dry lips, drilling my teeth, numbness in my mouth, finally, having to pay for this torture!

I've always hated going to the dentist. That's why it's so easy to say I'm just too busy to go. Before I got married, I had a great dentist. For being my least favorite thing in the world to do, he was at least very nice and very fast. After I got married, I decided to see my husband's dentist. OMG! He was actually mean! He was rude. He said I had a cavity on the back on my wisdom tooth, so I should just make an appointment to have all my wisdom teeth removed. What? Yah right! I went back to dentist #1. He looked at that cavity and told me no problem, it would just take a minute to fill. Thank You!

A few years went by. I still didn't see the dentist. With our new insurance plan, dentist #1 wasn't listed as a dentist I could see. Also new dentist #1 was more expensive. I decided to see a dentist from the plan. Terrible again. I was about 35 at the time, and this was the first time in my life that they made my gums bleed. I even took better care of my teeth. When they told me to spit, pure blood! So gross. I could taste it. I asked them why that happened, and they said most people's gums bleed at the dentist. OK, by!

A few years went by again. This time I chipped my front tooth. I actually got a headache thinking about just going back. What would they do? Is it going to hurt? Will it look bad? I didn't care about money this time. I had to see dentist #1. (Actually he did accept our insurance. We just had to pay whatever the insurance wouldn't cover.) He fixed my tooth super fast and was so positive! No problem. I love him!

I just went to dentist #1 today for a cleaning and two fillings. I still hate going. I get tense while they're working on me. When I was leaving, I was actually freezing and shaking from the stress! The one thing good that came out of this? My front tooth cracking forced me to go and made me realize that I'll never see another dentist again. I wouldn't care what it cost. I love my dentist! Please don't retire! He IS starting to get a little old. I don't know if I could ever go to the dentist again!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Laundry, the Neverending Job

There are some jobs that I do around the house that I really hate to do. Some of these are - cleaning up the kitchen, picking up endless toys, cleaning my bathroom (it takes too long), and weeding the garden (I don't like getting dirt in my nails). One job that I don't mind doing is laundry.

I have a pretty good system going for having a large family. First, I do laundry six days a week. Each of the kids room has their own hamper and they are responsible for putting their own dirty laundry in it. Every morning after I get the kids off to school, I collect all their laundry and throw it down the laundry chute to the laundry room in the basement. By doing it every morning, I can quickly sort it, throw in a load or two, and fold what's left in the dryer from yesterday.

For me, it's a satisfying job. I love the feeling of accomplishment of folding the clean clothes and putting it in our closets. I wash everything a certain way - white clothes in hot with a scoop of oxyclean, soaking for 15 minutes, and a double rinse - darks in cold on a gentle and shorter cycle - my shirts in warm and hand dry. That's part of the reason I like to do it myself. No one knows exactly how I like it done.

The part I DO hate is when there is an endless amount of laundry to do that I have to do it all day long. This I why I have laundry rules:

1. Only throw DIRTY clothes in the hamper. If your jeans look clean, wear them again!

2. Don't throw towels in the hamper. Hang them back up in the bathroom and I will collect them when I think they need to be washed. (Otherwise the kids would throw them in the hamper every day because it's easier than hanging it back up.)

3. Hang your pajamas up on a hook every morning. I decide when to wash those too. (Once again, it's easier for the kids to just throw them in the hamper. They would never be able to keep track of how many days they wore them anyway.)

4. Don't throw your socks in the hamper inside out. It's a disgusting job to have to flip everyone's smelly dirty socks the right way before they go in the wash. Yuck.

If the kids do it right, I collect the laundry out of their hamper and wash it. (I even put it away for them if it's not too much.) But if they throw down clean clothes, for example, they have to help me fold it all and put ALL the laundry away. If I find socks that are inside out, the person of the first inside out sock that I find has to flip all the socks the right way. They love doing this.

These rules work out really well, most of the time. Imagine how I felt this morning when saw what was waiting for me in the laundry room:

Now who threw down all these clothes! (I thought I was all caught up yesterday?)

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Kids Are Fighting! (again)

Today was the last day off of school for my kids from their Thanksgiving break. I actually love it when they're home. They talk to me all day. They want me to play games and watch movies with them. I truly enjoy being with all 4 of them.

Today was not as fun as I usually like it to be. I had a ton of things to do (go to the library, the bank, piles of laundry, make some phone calls, etc). This is when the problems started. I gave each of them a job to do. 13 year old - clean up the kitchen, 11 year old - pick up his room and basement, 7 year old - pick up his room and the basement, also, and 3 year old - help clean up the basement. Then I went to go on some errands. My phone rings, "Mom, everyone's fighting and no one's cleaning up!" "OK", I try to say as quietly as I can in the library, "Tell (11 year old) to finish cleaning up and you play a game with (3 year old)". "OK. Can we make brownies?" "YES!" I figured it would give them something to do that wouldn't involve fighting.

I got home, not too bad. Everything was pretty clean, but, evertime I went to do another job of mine, FIGHTING! 3 year old is screaming in the basement. 7 year old is teasing her.

I decided to take a breath and play with 3 year old. It's amazing how good they are when you give them your complete attention and play with them. But, how do you get anything done? OK, everything is calmed down now, back to making dinner. More fighting! Do you ever have a day that you can't wait until all the kids are in bed asleep and the house is quiet? I couldn't wait today. This was suppose to be our fun day!

I hate to call 7 year old difficult. It sounds so negative. I prefer spirited. It's a prettier word. It seems like the fighting matches always happen to be in the room that he is in! TIME FOR BED!

At the end of the night, husband grabs the 3 year old and heads off to bed. I got the 7 year old. Hurry up. Don't do that. It's late. Get in bed. We finally are actually getting the kids IN their beds. I take a deep breath, "OK, do you want to read to me tonight? I'll find a book for you." The spirited child replies, "No mom. I want you to read me a Bible story." My frustration is gone. The kid who was driving me crazy all day wants me to read his favorite Bible stories to him! "Yes, I can read two." Gotta love him! This is when I sit back and think about what went wrong today, and make sure tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

At Home Date Night

My husband and I love to go out to eat and see movies. The problem is it's expensive and we have to find a babysitter. That's why we only go out once in a great while.

Instead of going out a lot, my husband and I have a date night at home every Saturday night. First we make dinner for the kids, usually something simple that they enjoy (sloppy joes, hot dogs, hamburgers, ham, etc). Then when the kids are done eating and go off to play or watch TV, my husband makes some cocktails and we cook a nice meal together.

I still try to make something simple, but I make it a little more special than our weekday meals. Last night we made grilled pork tenderloin, butternut squash, and salad with honey mustard dressing. It was so good. This is a great meal that doesn't cost too much and is simple to cook! We get everything ready, put the youngest to bed, then grill and eat in peace.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin
olive oil
garlic powder
crushed red pepper flakes

Just rub as much of the spices as you like on the tenderloin and grill until pink in the center!

Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash
maple syrup

Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Lay skin side down in baking pan with a little water on the bottom. Put butter, a little maple syrup, salt, and pepper on top. Cover with tin foil and bake 350' until soft (about 1-1/2 hour). Scoop the flesh of the squash out into a bowl to serve.

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Whisk ingredients together and pour on salad when serving.

For the salad I used Boston bibb lettuce, a little red onion, 1 tomato, sweet red pepper, crispy bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese. I pour lots of honey mustard dressing on it so I have plenty to dip my pork into. So simple. So delicious!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crazy Black Friday

It's the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday. Did any of you dare to go out? I can't believe I did, and I'm not sure I will again next year! I didn't go out at 5:00 AM. I waited until 8:00 AM. I don't know if it was any better. I took the back roads there. Not much traffic. I pulled in Target. Found a parking spot right away. Walked in the store and an employee handed me a cart. "Not bad", I thought. I did notice the lines were a little long. As I headed to the back of the store I wondered why all these people were standing around back here. Then I realized, these were the lines! Every line stretched to the back of the store and down the aisle! How long would it take me to even stand in the line IF I even found what I was looking for?

I decided I may as well look to see if they had any of the digital cameras left that were on sale. I headed to electronics. What are these people standing for in the middle of the store? They were in line at the pharmacy! I found electronics. More long lines. I could barely even get around the people to find where the cameras were. I searched the shelves for the camera and couldn't figure out which one it was! I couldn't find it! Then I noticed one camera on the bottom of the shelf. It didn't seem to have a place it fit, so I didn't know the price. I hoped it was the one and got in the long line.

When I got up to the register (about 1/2 hour later), I asked the clerk if this was the camera that was on sale. He rang it up. "Yep, it's the one. You found one?" He thought they were sold out. I guess another customer changed their mind and just left it on the bottom of the shelves, FOR ME!

I got out of Target, no problem. Next, the mall. I figured luck was on my side today and I had to try Bon Ton to use my $10 gift cards. I got the only parking spot around (lucky again). Then I headed to The Bon. I searched around for the best deals. I got two sweaters, a pair of boots, and a shirt. Then I waited in another long line. When I got up to the counter the clerk informed me my gift cards were not good on any of my purchases. "You've got to be kidding! After I stood in this line!" Everyone around me was saying the same thing. The coupons were not good on: door busters, clearance sales, certain name brand items, basically everything that would have been a good deal. They would be better off listing the items the coupons were good for. Anyone else have this problem today?

So, here's what I learned about how to have a stress free Black Friday.

1. Plan on going to only one store for the items you really want, and get there early enough before they sell out.

2. Take a friend with you. One person gets in the line as soon as you get inside while the other picks up the items.

3. Take a deep breath and realize that even though it's a very long line, at least you'll only be standing in one line if you listen to me and only go to one store.

4. While in line, start up a conversation with the people in line in front of you and behind you. It makes the time go by faster and it's interesting to hear the other shoppers experience. It was funny. We all felt like we were friends! We discussed other stores we were at, what deals we were getting. A few people were even offering their extra coupons to the other people in line.

5. If you're not looking for the doorbuster sales, shop at 6:00 PM. It's amazing how the traffic dies down when the tummies start to rumble.

6. Last, but not least, don't shop at Bon Ton. The sales are not as good as they seem!

Was anyone else brave enough to go out today? If you did, what was your experience like?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! I just got back from a quick jog. It's cold and snowing here in PA! It sure was hard getting motivated to go out, but once I got going I was so glad I did. Now I can eat! I love Thanksgiving. It's a relaxing day for me (mainly because it's at grandma's house) filled with great food and family. I think my favorite things to do are eat and talk!

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? What is your favorite part of the holiday? How is the weather like where you live?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You're Invited...

Today we are handing out invitations for my teen's birthday party next weekend. She'll be 14. I don't want to have a big party, so she's just inviting some friends over for pizza, cake, and a movie. I can't imagine how a bunch of 14 year olds in one room are actually going to sit down and watch a movie at a party. Oh well. I think I'm prepared. Husband said he doesn't care how many kids are here as long as we don't have to take them anywhere and they're in the basement. Are you sure you mean that? At least my basement, aka playroom, gets cleaned with this deal!

So what do you buy a teen anyway? Since my daughter's birthday is December 1, I shop for her birthday presents and Christmas presents at the same time. Here is a list of some ideas that my daughter likes:

1. Money!

2. Gift certificates (of course) - to the mall, Hollister, Claires, McDonalds, movie theaters, Bath
and Body Works, Barnes and Noble

3. Digital camera

4. Cell Phone or new cell phone cover if she already has one

5. Make up, lipgloss, perfume

6. DVD's - Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Seventh Heaven, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, National
Treasure, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

7. Art supplies - paints and canvas, drawing pencils

8. Teen magazines - Tiger Beat, Bop

9. Lap desk

10. MP3 (I almost forgot!)

11. Cute, soft, pajama pants

12. Video games - Harvest Moon, Mario Party, DDR

13. Electric scooter (My daughter may get this if I win a chance to buy one on Amazon for $29!)

14. Games - Scene It games, Are Smarter Than a Fifth Grader DVD game

I will buy some of these for my daughter like the camera, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and Gilmore Girls. I save some of these ideas for when relatives ask what to get her. I try not to spend too much on the kids and it seems like they still get mountains of presents on Christmas. What are some other ideas that you have for kids of this age? Also, how do you know how much you're going to buy for your kids? Do you buy a certain number of presents for each kid? Do you stick to a budget? I don't count the number of presents or how much I spend. I try not to spend too much, and I try to make the size of the piles look half way equal for each kid.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Bill From My Husband?

Yesterday I opened the dishwasher to unload it and found the bottom of it filled with water. I immediately assumed I didn't run the disposer again so the water wouldn't drain. I ran the disposer, then tried to drain the dishwasher. I opened the dishwasher and the water was still there. I called hubby at work, "Can you put Drano in the dishwasher?". It said safe for all systems, but do not use on toilets. I tried it. It STILL didn't work. Waited another 1/2 hour, tried it, still didn't work.

I have 4 kids! The dishwasher is the 2nd most important appliance in our house (next to the washing machine, of course). It can't be broken! We just put ourselves on a budget and a broken dishwasher was not in it! I have Christmas shopping to do!

Daughter came home from school. "You have to rinse off the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher! Now the dishwasher is clogged and we have to get it fixed!" "Oops! Sorry mom."

Husband said to wait for him to come home, he'll look at it. He worked on it for 4 hours. After a minor flooding in our kitchen, he fixed the dishwasher! The drain to the disposer was all clogged. Husband asked if I dumped something greasy down the drain lately. "Oh, you mean like bacon grease?" (Oops, on myself.) So it wasn't daughter. Maybe I'll tell her that later. Well, at least I don't have to worry about this happening again. Bacon's not in the budget. Hubby said he's sending me a bill. Ok, I guess.