Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Money

A quick note for the day:

This morning was the last parenting class.
I have enjoyed it.
I learned today that work, money and service opportunities are crucial for kids.
Lots of times, a child's first experience with money will shape their future monetary dealings.

So we are going to make a better effort at giving the children resposibilites that earn rewards, and not necessarily the kind of rewards that come with dollar signs.

I need simplicity.
www.myjobcharts.com offers that for me.

Another note about how much money a kid can or should be responsible for:
$1 per year old per week (or 2 weeks).
And that money should become the basis for savings and spending.
Money management is a really hard concept to teach, but super important.

In a minute the kids will be walking in.
It was a little bit of a rough morning.
They came in about 11ish last night and most had projects due today.
All finished their work, but it took the better part of a rushed morning.

I am really thankful that for the most part, the kids are so willing to help.
I love my time with them.
I missed them this weekend,
but I was able to make some good changes that will have a long lasting effect.

Dan and the kids are having a bit of a hard time with their new found ownership of responsibility, but overall, I believe that it's worth the struggles.

The thing I found most remarkable about dealing with kids is the fact that they are universally predictable.
It's not just kids, it's human nature.
We want to look for someone to blame when things are hard or don't go our way.
We want an excuse.
Since excuses went out of style in 2011, it's best that we learn to adapt and overcome.

With that said,
I have to make dinner.

The washing machine broke after my marathon laundry day.
Bummer.
I am going to see if I can fix that while the pasta boils.

(And I just found the luckiest half full container of blue Gatorade. Can we do this? Yes we can :)

POST EDIT:
I wasn't fast enough with the Gatorade :(
BUT
I fixed the washer all by myself
(well Dan looked up the error code)
But I did it!
It's the most empowering thing I've done all year!

The drain hose was full of sludge.
It's always smelled kind of funny (I bought it used)
I hauled that washer right over to the sink and flushed out the sludge.
It was grosser than cleaning out the hamster cage (I did that yesterday).
And I did it.
And it works.

I don't have to worry about being reduced to tears again by the malfunction of a household appliance.

The children are picking up now and marking jobs off their job list.
I told them how a blind, but knowing, Grab Basket magically grows feet and arms and goes around acquiring their forgotten and misplaced items.

No Zombie #4, it does not "steal" your stuff.
When you leave your things out, it's like bequeathing them to a friend, or separate entity if you will.

Note from a happy mama: Colin pinned a guy and also lost by points in his second match to the same kid who pinned him last week. Way To Go, son. I love to watch you, and winning feels awesome.

Eyore Zombie: The world is a happy, good place. The new system will work....or I might get rich trying. Haha....I'm laughing WITH you.
Love you.

Well that's it for this day. It was an overall, sludgy success.
It's time for bed. I can't wait!!


Monday, January 30, 2012

More Love and Logic

My editor is my first born zombie.
(She understands my humor....and occasional lack thereof,
and she has incredible language skills.)

I asked her what she thought of my last post.
"What was the message?"

She said, "It sounds like I don't want to take care of you kids anymore."

haha
....love that little zombie.

Well since my most faithful readers are in fact the minions who occupy this house,
this post is for you.....

I am going to make your lives as simple as possible.

(It helps that dad took you on a trip this weekend and left me home alone with just Sydney and the baby girls.
Do you know how much is possible when there is just a baby and a toddler to look after?
It was peaceful.
Of course I felt bad for missing the trip.
It's the first one in 17 years that I haven't attended.
But to look on the bright side,
Dan packed the children,
and since I was not there, I will never know what he forgot.)

If you do the following, you will have all kinds of time to do all the things you love.

How do I simplify raising 9 busy bees?

We have shower towels with names on them.
(The linen closet is locked.)

And the lockers hold the sports gear.

The shoe shelf holds the shoes.

The book shelves hold the books.

The toy bins hold the toys.

We have 2 vacuums,

And cleaning products in each bathroom.

If you put away your things, you will always find what you are looking for.

The older kids are trained to wash their laundry, although we haven't been enforcing that policy in quite some time.
And as of today, nearly all your clothes are clean and put away.
That means that you now have a "Laundry Day."
You can choose to wash your clothes once a week on your assigned day or just wear stinky clothes.
Remember that when you wash, it must be an entire load.
And the entire load (whether your clothes or not) must be dried, folded and put away.
We have a shelf in the laundryroom with a basket just for you.
Please choose to use it.

Oh....one more thing:
There is a new concept we are going to try.
It's called a "Grab Basket."
At the end of the day, we will do a 10 Second Tidy.
(It's really 10 minutes, but on the Big Comfy Couch, she did it in seconds because they used fast forward. We don't have that tho. Sorry)
After you go to bed,
the Grab Basket will be happy to inherit all the rest of the items left on the floor; shoes, socks, jackets, toys, books, etc.
The Grab Basket OWNS your things until you wait a week or $1 per item to get it out.

And finally, from parenting class I was directed to this:
myjobchart.com

The chores are set up.
You simply need to login and mark them off as they are completed.
I get an email at the end of the day that notifies me of the jobs that were or were not completed.
You earn points when you complete the tasks.
Points mean money.
Money is good.

And lastly,
You are amazing little creatures,
each with unique gifts to grace our world.
I feel really strongly that if we work on developing charity, we will be abundantly blessed.
To be honest,
I think we are already abundantly blessed,
we just don't always recognize it.

What kind of mother would I be if my children leave this home unprepared to meet the world?
(Zombie answers are invalid.)

I love you to pieces.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Collision

Well, after an exhausting and somewhat defeating day on Thursday,
I stopped for a minute to reflect on all I had been learning and feeling lately.
This parenting class is helping me.
There was a moment on Tuesday during class when all my bad parenting moments came together and weighed heavily on my heart.
The redeeming part of that day was in the comfort of knowing that we can change,
and it really helps that our kids are still little.

There were several situations this week that caused me to stop and consider my words, motivations, actions and results.

Colin missed his morning classes Thursday. I enjoyed the time with him,
but it really wasn't a very productive time for him.
He was better off being in class.
I picked up the older kids early from school that day to hopefully find some peace before the busy afternoon exploded.
I sometimes miss them and worry if they will be sufficiently prepared for their activities.
On the afternoon off....we had a good pasta lunch together and then got a head start on the homework.
Later in the day,
I asked the kids for a little help with some chores,
specifically the van,
but it didn't exactly work out.
Really, I think it would have been best to keep them at school, and spend time with them that evening.
That Thursday afternoon, driving in the messy car I found myself reverting back to lecturing and yelling.
I was upset that the children had been specifically asked to help clean out the car, but deliberately chose not to.
I was frustrated that it was messy to begin with.
I believe it's a culmination of many disappointing factors when we have chaos here.
In my mind I thought, "Great....now I have to do all this by myself."
And I started planning time when I could bring order back into our world....again by myself.
I felt resentment, frustration, exhaustion, and the overwhelming emotional strain that is often felt by moms everywhere.
All of the sudden, out of nowhere, a thought occurred to me about my van.
I interrupted my own lecture to the children to say this,
"This car's purpose is to drive you guys and your friends around town to your various activities. I know how important it is to each of you that our car looks nice. It's frustrating to step on things and lose things in this car. I have an idea. If keeping the car clean is important to you, please help with that. And if it is not, then it will stay like this."
I removed myself emotionally from the circumstances.
I had to be okay with either choice.....and I was.
It felt like I was dropping a huge rock I had been carrying around for a long time.

I finally understand that I spend a major amount of energy shouldering problems that do not exactly belong to me.
As much as I like to help people, at some point, I have to let them own their own problems and carry their burdens.
It's good.
I have been practicing this with myself.
A week ago, I had a tough situation arise with a business transaction.
I wanted to make everyone happy,
but it was not possible.
I allowed myself to be sucked into the drama, but only for a minute.
I did not allow myself to be blamed,
and ultimately, it was the Love and Logic techniques that eventually provided the most useful resolution.
Amazingly, the situation worked out without me losing any dignity in arguing, blaming or criticizing.

I spent all week giving choices.
I said things like, "What a bummer" or "So Sad" or "hmmmmm" when people were unjustly heaping their frustrations back on me.
I tried NOT fix every situation that came along.

Friday morning I gathered the children and let them know how I was feeling and how things would be changing here.
We should be doing more because we are genuinely motivated from within.
I can no longer be the person they blame when they cannot find their shoes, homework, uniform, library book, etc....
I feel sad for them when they struggle,
and I would like to help where I can,
but I cannot bear the brunt of any one's frustrations.
Failing is not a good option,
and teaching moments are every where.
My real purpose in mothering is to prepare the children for their lives after childhood.
There are many choices they can make, and lots of good options.
We still have expectations here.
Think of it this way:
When you buy a new home,
there are certain structural requirements.
It must have a foundation, roof, walls, plumbing, electric, etc.
But we choose the color of our paint, they type of flooring, the fixtures.
We can choose to make it beautiful or plain, functional or frustrating.
Put this in terms of raising children?
There are certain expectations that are required of us as parents.
We provide safety, shelter, nutrition, and education.
Above that, a loving God has given direction for spiritual maturity.
We teach from the scriptures and the prophets about prayer, service, love, charity and the Gospel of Christ.
Beyond all that, Dan and I feel it's our responsibility to provide a better-than-average education, and growth experiences through sports and music.
I admit that I haven't always had the answers to questions like,
"Why do I have to do my homework? (or go to church or school or practice).
Thankfully, our kids rarely complain.
It's really a privilege to have all those blessings in our lives.
But every now and then I have to answer some hard questions.
Thankfully, we have choices.
Here are my feelings put into Love and Logic language:
We can choose to go happy or sad.
We can choose to participate with all our hearts or settle for mediocrity.
We can learn and grow from it or complain about it.
(One of my favorite quotes,
"Winners train. Losers complain.")
When it comes to the "House" part of life. We cannot change the structure.
We ARE building a house,
but the "Options" are unlimited.
It can be everything amazing,
or it can be a dilapidated shack.
We choose.
We Choose.
WE. CHOOSE.
A few months ago, when I was trying to figure myself out,
I found great peace when I made the enlightening discovery that I am a Chinese mother.
I had been wondering why I felt like I wasn't fitting in sometimes.
I am not a Western mother.
I am a Chinese mother.
It feels great to finally understand myself.
It gave the children comfort to understand me too.
We laughed and laughed about it for days.
They continue to tease me every now and then when we find ourselves in "Chinese" situations.
Now about Love and Logic.....
I am always willing to learn and try new things that will benefit our family.
If I can find the balance between Chinese mothering and Love and Logic, we have a better chance at being truly happy.
The Love and Logic mom tells me that I need to provide choices.
Chinese Mother tells me to set acceptable and ambitous limits on those choices.
For example, "What sport are you choosing between this season: Football or Wrestling?"
Or "Which days would you like to work out this week?"
Or "Would you like to read a long book in the car or several shorter books?"
Or "Tennis Camp or Basketball Camp?"
What would our "House" look like if I left free, open blocks of time without limitations?
A disaster.
Here's the most enlightening thought of my week:
My children came to me for a reason.
I have had distinct impressions about the people they are becoming.
I know my heart, my ambitions and my failings,
and for all those things, I have been developing into the mother I am meant to be.
We are blessed with high energy and excessive confidence to do impossible things.
I have no doubt that we were brought together on purpose.
It's confirmed to me over and over again.
When I let go of things that are important because I feel pressured, I am unhappy.
When I am unhappy, everyone is unhappy.
So there is a balance between my Chinese Mother and my Love and Logic Mother.
I think they are coliding for good.
I hope so.
Our very inspired Love and Logic teacher is helping me find the phrases I need for the impressions that are already planted in my mind and heart.
Forcing the children into submission has never been anything I desire,
but I am excessivily great at commanding small armies.
It would be easy for me to drive my children to fulfill all my ambitions, because they love me tremendously.
I am thankful that I feel satisfied with my own achievements in life.
I have never felt like reliving my childhood through my kids.
I don't believe in Trophy children either.
But success is awesome.
I do hope they want that too.
We are just here to help each other.
Perhaps with an emphasis on charity, we will find the success we are looking for.
And that was my epiphany this week.
I would not have realized it as easily if I had not stopped to devote a few hours out of my week to bettering my mothering.
Maybe it would have come sooner if I was stopping more often.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Moments

The moment when you realize that you no longer have to shoulder everyone else's problems: liberating.....and sad.

Will they ever miss all the effort I have given?
Was it ever appreciated?

17 years of evolution.

I am proud of my little peeps who work so hard,
And a husband who gives so much.
My life is very blessed.

I finally had the epiphanical change of heart.
We really are here to help each other succeed.

To my little zombies:
I have given my heart to helping you.
I hope you will now give your heart to helping yourselves and each other.
I love you......even when it's hard.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cereal

Another long night,
But not as bad as some.
I'm posting from my phone,
Because its hard to stop and feed the baby and enjoy the thought that I have a pile of unfinished work.
So I do what I can given my limitations.

As Dan left for work he asked me if I needed him to show me how to use the washer and dryer.
Haha...no, you can do it when you get back.

Who am I kidding?
When the kids are sick
And we have places to be
And I'm here alone,
It's impossible to do what needs done sometimes.
I thought about staying up last night.
All-nighters kill my head.
That causes pain.
I remember pain.
No more all-nighters.

So it's a cereal-crunching-under-my-feet kind of day.
And maybe these little princess girls will feel better
And we can do something productive.

And if not,
I guess it's ok.

I stopped and rocked Maryn for a minute.
And now I'm rocking Ainsley.
In a minute I will go help Colin clean his room because he needs that.
And later I will pick up Sydney after dropping Cade.
Somehow I will pick up Sydney Again from school and have the elementary kids to their running race on time.
It will be a miracle to be on time to watch Colin's match just after that.
Homework, wrestling, dinner, bath, book, and bed.
Am I complaining? No way.
I love these days.
It's not a warm day with my toes in the sand of a beautiful beach,
But it's good.

Happy Thursday. Today is the day!



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Letters to Wednesday

Dear Wednesday,

For the first time in days, it's quiet. It's been a long week, and I am happy to move on from it. (Our weeks begin and end on different days because of the work Dan does.) I am not sure if we are at the beginning or the end, but today feels like one of those.

I sat for a minute holding Ainsley this morning. Her little hand was wrapped softly in mine. I felt so close to her. It's the same feeling I've had thousands of times, and I know it's the feeling I will miss the most when these children are grown and gone from our home.

I have been taking another parenting class. It's been helpful. I need good reminders on how to speak to the children. Yesterday was a good day with Reagan. It seems like we rarely get the chance to speak. I was happy to listen to her. This morning, Presley invited me in to visit her caterpillar at school. Of course I want to go see that. And today Caleb had trouble wanting to get out the door for school. I wish he could stay with me all day, but duty calls. Corbin is doing very well in school. It was a rough start in kindergarten, but he has settled into a nice routine and it pleases me to see him progress so much. I can attribute it entirely to Gramma who spends countless hours with him. Yesterday, Corbin stopped her from helping him and told her to "just sit" because he could do it himself. Way to go Corbin for finding your confidence. Sydney has been enjoying herself, and that is good. She even pulled out a planner and wrote some things down in it. That's a big step for a creative mind. Structure helps the innovative mind reach an even higher potential. And I have been impressed lately with her natural use of language and wit. She has a great spirit about her. Cade is back to school this week, but unusually quiet. It worries me when he isn't his normal ball of spunk and fire.

This week when our world got rocked, I did what I know to do. After the headache, we went to the hardware store and then started a project. It's good for us. We work together. We improve our home and bring a little more organization to our life. Parenting class reminded me that my time with the kids is so short. I have to make the most of this. Speaking of parenting class, I am trying new things. For example, I am replacing lectures with enforceable statements, such as "I would be happy to take you to your friends when you are treating me with respect and your chores are done." I used enforceable statements all last evening. Guess what? It works. I never have to say "no" again. The good things that the children want can be easily attained by their own choosing.

We did spend a lot of time in class talking about the hard things we deal with. My biggest challenge is maintaining order in this house. It used to be easy....before I worked and 5 kids ago. I could keep an immaculate house. But recent years have been harder. The truth is that the children are just like me. All success and failure in this home hinges on how well we keep it up. A new baby always takes a toll. The sleeplessness catches up. Bombs do less damage than we do some days :) Here's the positive: We keep trying. Sometimes we make the right improvements to simplify our lives. For me, this week it was 'lockers.' Yep, the kind you find at school. The standard, super heavy, compartmentalizing type. The ones that hold jackets, books and cleats. Yes, that is what I need. Or so I convinced myself. So when we needed a project to lift our spirits, I finally gave Dan full ownership of the garage. I do not care what he keeps or throws away. I did not care what color he painted it or how speckled or glossy the floor is. I just need something manageable. He took full advantage of my weak moment and quickly had that place cleared out and painted in just a matter of hours. I am sure when it is finished, there will be only residual traces of any female influence in that soon-to-be man cave. That....makes me happy.

Oh Wednesday, good news....Colin made the varsity wrestling team. He can thank me now for having the foresight a few months ago to drive him 3 times a week to the hood for an excellent program. He can thank his awesome coaches who believe that puking is no excuse for taking 43 extra seconds during a bathroom break. (43 up-downs were the penalty that night.) He can thank his Father in Heaven for strengthening his mental endurance when there were moments when quitting seemed like a better alternative to getting his rear end kicked in just seconds. Colin knows that wrestling is my new favorite. It's because it teaches so much. Boys begin to understand the full extent of their responsibilities as they wrestle through hard moments. Hours and hours of practice happen to prepare an athlete for 3 short minutes on the mat. It looks exhausting and fun. This weekend, Colin learned what it feels like to have his face smashed into the mat over an over. He got a little angry and fought hard. Every impossible match teaches something new. If we keep learning from our mistakes, then we are making good progress.

Well Wednesday, you are overflowing with activity today. Chorus and tutoring, Activity girls and mutual, wrestling and wrestling, plus everything else that a day can hold. Cade is begging me to stop and read him a book. I can't think of anything more important than that right now, so I had best end this letter now. Please be kind to me today.

Encouragingly yours,
Me

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday

It's been an ugly week.

More than anything, I wanted to be skiing on my birthday,
but not all birthdays can be good.
You need some to make the others memorable.
What will I remember about mine?
Sitting with Maryn and Cade around an over sized cookie at the end of a long, bad day.
Dan took the pizza cutter and sliced it in slivers.
Maryn and Cade took a few slices each.
By the time I had taken one bite out of mine,
Maryn had eaten all she had,
and scooped up the rest of mine.
Happy Birthday mama.

I might think to complain,
if it wasn't for the fact that Dan treats me so nicely every day of the year.
He makes my world a good place to live in.

The fish are swirling around anxiously.
I should feed them,
except I am still upset.
It's going to take awhile to get over the Zombie fish,
But if I don't feed them,
they will eat a guppy,
and I can't stand oppression.
Stupid fish.

Hammie is back to running in his hamster wheel.
He will have a life-long injury, but he is alive.
Fat Hobbit needs a walk.
The kitten is getting faster.

We were in a funk over some hard news.
I'm still not over it.

Dear Zombie child who needs a hug:
It's okay.
We love you so much.
You are doing amazingly well.
This morning we got up and got out early.
None of us wanted to,
But all of us are better for having done so.
We find safety in consistent, good habits.
That way, when our world begins to fall apart,
we have something we can trust to keep us afloat.
Remember that song?
"If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there"
Today's goal: Make it quietly through our struggles without getting caught in a trap.
Have a good day today.
I love you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One more day

I slept all night-ish.
Ainsley didn't get up till 3:30am,
but that's a pretty standard Friday morning time.
My head and heart are always at the same place on Fridays,
but I couldn't physically be there today.
I did the next best thing,
and read my Book,
then woke the kids,
and headed out with Sydney to the gym.

Yesterday was busy.
I woke up needing a new motivation.
Craig and his list.......so awesome when I get an idea.
Dan is going to love my next project for him.

So when I combine parenting class with working out and add in my time in the scriptures, I'm a half decent parent.
This morning, Cade was trying to get my attention.
I almost brushed him off.
Instead, I stopped and looked down to see what he needed.
He was handing me a marker.
I forced my mind to wonder why?
He just wanted me to put it away.
That is a monumental step here.
I praised him for doing the right thing.
He might have otherwise colored on the wall again,
or at a minimum, Maryn would have.
Cade's reward? His name went into the ticket jar.
(Dan's design: When we catch them doing good things, he puts their name on a ticket for a prize drawing....they love it.)
And then I got down to Corbin's level and spoke with him.
The little boys helped me make breakfast.
Eggs (I had to call Dan and ask him exactly how to do that),
Sausage (I did all by myself)
Graham crackers (Corbin added)
And of course,
One ritz cracker each.
The little boys were very proud of their contribution.
Cade has been playing quietly ever since.

So....all we have to do is listen to them??

The fish tank has a big rubber band in it.
I'm kind of mad at the fish,
so I'm not taking it out.

Oh....I got the coolest thing ever.
It's the mother of all Spot Bots.
It's a Spot Bot on wheels.
It cleans large area of carpet.
Since it looks like we are keeping this carpet for awhile,
this little thing has become my new best friend.

And last night, we were at this cool old house.
They had a play house....the kind every kid dreams of.
I am now wondering how to make one.
Our kids loved it so much.

Well....time to go.
My iPod is charged.
The kids are happy.
I have a million things to do, none of which is overly important.
My real issue is that I am easily distracted.
Caleb yelled at me to stay on task in the middle of scripture time this morning.
The kitten had come in and I lost my focus.

Ok....rambling again.
Must work.
One more day. One more day. One more day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday

What I am learning from parenting class:

"So sad".....when said, keeps responsibility with the person who rightfully owns the problem.
"Probably so".....I agree with you, but I won't argue with you, because this is what it is.

And my favorite...."You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."
I didn't learn that in this class.
That is from Sydney's first preschool teacher.

Last night, Maryn was having a bad dream.
I went in to get her.
She brought her blanket to my bed.
She laid there with her eyes wide open.
I finally asked if she wanted to go back to her crib.
Yes.
So I rocked her a long time and put her to bed again.

2-4am awake.
Long nights this year, I think.

Well, it's time to do something productive.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Letters to Wednesday

Dear Wednesday,

I wanted to send you a warm greeting before you begin. I am hoping for a good day today. We had a lovely service for the Zombie fish. To be honest,I was really disappointed it died. He survived many months when we didn't know he was alive in the tank. Big bummer. Everyone got a chance to share a few words. We sang 'Till We Meet Again'. Corbin was the pall bearer. He had a burial at sea. (The kitten did try to eat the deceased at the viewing, but we were quick to scoop him up and get him out.)

Last night was date night. We went for German food with some fire guys. It's always fun to go with people who have never been. They learn quickly that at the German restaurant, we do not make requests. For example, someone was hoping to substitute spaetzle for potatoes. No. I ordered my favorite Jaegerschnitzel. Dan order "The Same", but the waitress heard "Salmon." I ate salmon. No complaining. One person was asking about how the potatoes are prepared. Boiled. "Boiled" means quartered and boiled in water, then dumped on the plate. No seasoning. Boiled. There is a salad bar. It's unsure if you can go back for seconds. No one was brave enough to ask. You don't have to be German to work at the restaurant. You just have to act German. I love the German culture. No Excuses. No Complaining.

Well, I spent every last minute I could with Dan. I hate to even sleep before he leaves again. Dan is a smidgen jealous of Kevin though. This morning the kitten wanted to sleep on his pillow. I told Dan to scooch. Last night, the kitten wanted to play with Dan toes. I told him it was fine. We slept with the door open. And the kitten slept between us. He is cute.

My friend commented that I have managed to become the 'Crazy Lady with all the kids' AND pulled of being 'The Weird Cat Lady'. Haha. That's not easily done. No really, I am just trying to show compassion to the pets (so I can still get into Heaven someday).

This morning, Colin brought Hammie down in a basket and put him on the desk next to the computer. He thought I should spend time with him. On the upside, Hammie is perking up. His foot is still swollen and he can't bare weight on it, but he's looking happier. We continue to pray for the little furball.

Well, I have the 3 Littles home all day today. Cade's school is cancelled until they delouse. Great. And the elementary school is being plagued as well. If this current epidemic spreads as quickly as the last flu bug, we are all in trouble.

One last thing....Dan made a promotion at work this week. That means one really important thing: New Jammies for all of us. (We sleep in his work shirts). He also moves into the drivers seat of the fire engine. It's kind of sad. The driver never goes into the fires. Since they really don't see many fires, it's probably okay.

Oh, and from parenting class I learned some new stuff. First, it's not good to tell your children, "Go brush your slimy, rotting, yellow teeth." And when we sit down to dinner, the children should not complain about what has been prepared. I have to quit saying things like, "Dan, there is no way I am eating THAT." Or "Nooooo.....not food storage experiment night againnn." And I am never supposed to say, "G.r.o.s.s. Alright kids, load up, it's Panda night." Supposedly, it matters that I say nice things. (And I was just kidding about the "Panda" thing. We wouldn't really go there.)

One last notable remark....I am back up to my pre-baby Justin Bieber bench mark. 95 lbs today. The Justin Bieber bench goal? 120 lbs. I can do that. And the kids and I are making progress on our work out goal for 2012. 212 workouts. Whoever thought of that was a genius. It's the perfect kind of 'number' goal for me.

Well Wednesday, it's getting late and if I am not careful, I will get behind today. Ainsley just woke up crying and Maryn is "hungeee". Wednesday, please be kind to me today. I have some long days ahead of me this week.

Sincerely,
Me

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

:(

Did you know hamsters are nocturnal?
Kittens are too.
The baby is nocturnal,
and that means that we are back to Zombie mama again.

The last full night of sleep was 1 week ago.
Before that? Can't recall....

School is back.
I'm taking a parenting class.
It's not helping....hahaha.
Just kidding.

Last night I was reading Cade a book about sheep.
That made me think of lambs.
And then German food.
mmmmm

I think today will be a good day.
Because I found the charger for my iPod.

As I type, the kids just noticed that the Zombie fish is actually dead.
That makes me sad.

Well, Dan is calling.
Better move on.
We need to have a fish funeral before the kids set out to school today.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hammie

Well, it's quiet here.
I'm posting from my bed.

I was up 3 times in the night and barely slept which made 8am church nearly impossible.
I taught a lesson on "Loving your neighbors."
That was easy considering I live next door to family.
It was a happy, light lesson.
I love those kind.

This afternoon, my head is pounding.
I have a lovely rebound headache from last week.
That one was a trip.

Hey. Guess what?
I decided last week that I can do pull-ups.
And then I did one.
That's going to make the workouts much more fun.

Sydney cut her long golden hair.
Sad...... but I'm okay with it.
Everyone needs a change.

I was recently noticing that we have a very young household.
Maryn and the dog are 2.
Hammie is 1.
Ainsley is 5 months now.
The kitten is 2 months.
Cade is 4.
Corbin is 5.

Thats a lot of little peeps.

Well, I have only 1 shot at a nap and if my head would just calm down,
I might find a way thru this painful day.

Today we said good prayers for Hammie.
He's injured and I'm worried. (not just because I gauge my personal success on the life of the hamster).
I wouldn't want the furball in pain.
Hopefully the little dude pulls through.

High this week:
The kids went back to school.

Low this week:
The kids went back to school.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Another minute....

Holding the peanut again.

I suppose I will do a little more catching up....

Dan took me to lunch this week.
It was a working lunch,
because we had some stuff to do for the office.

The coolest thing ever, is working with him.
He's super nice,
good with people,
organized,
smart,
hard working,
and really easy to get along with.
When we have a staff-lunch-meeting,
it's just me and him.
I love that.

Any way,
he said he was doing some searches in our area.
(Sometimes we get fliers from people who work out this way. Selling homes in our depressed market is tough. This area was built out just before the bottom dropped, and tons of our homes are short sales or bank owned. And lots of people come and go.)
When people knock on our door with advertising,
I kindly listen.
The kids wonder why I don't just tell everyone I am a broker.
I like to listen.
Advertising has never been my focus,
and we work word-of-mouth.
I was recently approached by someone who said I have a reputation for doing good work.
We negotiated a sale for them,
and I got to know their family a little better.
I am happy they will soon be in the 'hood'.
It was a tremendous compliment for me to that someone would base our reputation on the fact that we manage a large family pretty well.

Since Ainsley has been born,
Dan has been the primary contact on most files.
He is very good at it.
The other day he had a question.
I answered it.
He wondered how I know so many answers about real estate.
I said, "I know, it's weird, huh?"
He said, "You don't really study it or anything either."
I agreed. It's such an odd gift.
I actually like the work.
When it comes down to dealing with banks and negotiators, I seem to be able to make good connections.
People are often relieved of burdening stresses,
and homes find new families.
I especially love working in our own area,
where buyers and sellers are often times our neighbors.

Dan recently had a frustrated woman call.
He was so nice to her.
(In the fire world, he deals with difficult people all the time.)
It doesn't even rattle him.
This week, he finished the most impossible short sale ever.
People always like to take credit when something great happens.
He and I both feel the same way.
We can attribute all good things to a loving God.
He knows our needs and strengthens us in our weaknesses.

Back to my lunch story....
Dan said he searched and found that one name comes up as the highest closer for the last 3 years in this area.
That name belongs to the same person who shares his toothbrush.
(Is that bad?)
It's true,
Outside of my first job as chauffeur,
I double as a real estate broker.
I wish my house was as clean as the deals we close.
(That would be awesome).
We are blessed in so many ways.

Well back to work.
Tomorrow is Sunday.
I have to find matching socks today,
and prepare a lesson.
The topic is funny to me.

And tomorrow the big boys in the family will be moving Great Uncle Keith's stuff to my mom's house next door.
I love Uncle Keith.
When I am old, I hope someone will invite me to their home, and wipe my drool for me til I croak.
My mom is the best a taking care of old people, little people and stupid bad dogs.

Okay....on to this day.

Moments to freeze

I can really only write when it's dark.
but even that is getting tough.
What's new??
Well the little boys moved into bunk beds.
Before I knew it, their little fire truck beds were disassembled and new Spiderman sheets were put on big beds.
I didn't think much of it until it was done.
And then I wanted to cry for a minute to close that chapter of our lives.
I love these little boys.
And I was thinking that the cradle is looking smallish for Ainsey,
so we started looking for a toddler bed for Maryn.
I bought one for $10 off a local FB group.
We set it up and she thought it was fun.
She has still slept in her crib the last few nights,
because I am not yet ready for the long night when we teach her to stay in her bed,
and she LUVS her crib.
Reagan wanted a kitten for Christmas.
I have emphatically been against that idea.
But I started to soften.
Honestly, it seems like most people in polite society frown on the idea of pets.
But I decided that we aren't most people.
Why do I care what other people think?
Oh right, I don't.
Our children would like pets.
And I love the children.
And pets need love too.
(That's what my sister told me,
and she laid a heavy dose of guilt on me by telling me that the pets 'feel' and they will stand as judges against us in Heaven....or at least that's the message I got, but I had just recently taught a lesson on "Judgement". Any way, I have been really nice to the pets lately, although the dumb dog tries my patience....a lot.)
I can't have stinky, messy pets.
We can avoid that problem.
So we now have a huge fat-hobbit dog (I call him "Fat Hobbit" because he is).
And we have a cat. (He's 'my precious').
And of course, Hammie.
Don't worry, we found him after only 24 hours missing.
(2012 was almost ruined on the very first day.)
And fish.
One day, my nephew brought over a bunch of fish, one by one.
Zombie fish has friends,
although his new friend fish are huge,
and might eat him,
like they ate the guppies.
(I'm not a fan of the big fish,
but the kids love them,
and the kitten loves them.)
So, we have a kitten.
His name is Kevin.
I really like the little guy.
He follows me around all day,
and uses his little box,
and plays,
and naps,
and doesn't eat anything,
....like shoes,
or furniture.
He's perfect.
Out of 9 children,
1 was bound to have allergies.
It's Corbin.
He was allergic to peanut butter as a baby.
I gave him small doses until he wasn't allergic anymore.
He spent the first week of the new kitten with swollen eyes.
He never complained.
I rode it out and eventually the allergies subsided.
I have, at times, been accused of having the emotional sensitivity of a brick wall.
It's true,
but sometimes we just have to stand with the "No Excuses" policy.
Usually, things work out, especially if we don't complain.
I am happy that we overcome our challenges.
Most people put eloquently, fancy-lettered sayings around their home.
The sayings Dan and I come up with would not exactly fit into the "eloquent" category.
If I could though, I would post this year's motto somewhere obvious in this house.
A big, bad, "NO EXCUSES" might be plastered above our front door or on a wall in the family room soon.
I really like that idea.
Anyway,
I suppose a lot has changed.
Our family is growing up.
I see our lives being blessed as we move into new phases.
I am not particularly loving my latest phase.
It's the "hair falling out" part of my life that I thought I would avoid this time.
Oh well....who needs hair, right?
I do wish I could freeze time.
My favorite moments are both exhausting and unforgettable.
I will miss these little peeps.
Maryn is adorable.
She carries Kevin all over the house.
The other day, Sydney and Reagan and I took time to put clothes on all her dolls and barbies. We found her tea set and organized her toys. Maryn is so easy to love.
Corbin says really funny things.
Lately, when he see's something really amazing,
he says, "What the H.E. Double Hockey Sticks!" only he doesn't say the double-hockey sticks part. He says the genuine word.
Our mouths hang open and we try not to laugh out loud.
Corbin isn't much for speaking,
but that he says really clearly.
I love that little dude.
We had a talk about it,
and hopefully it won't happen again.
When Corbin says it,
it shouldn't be a bad word.
He's so innocent and cute.
And no, Dan and I don't say that,
so we aren't sure where he learned that phrase,
or why he uses it so appropriately.
Well, I have so much more to write,
but the sun is coming up,
and I need to get a gazillion things done today.
Hopefully later, I will make it back here again.




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eagle Project wrap up

I never feel I can spare the time to write,
and I miss it so much.
This is the place where I clear my head.

Today is Tuesday.
I last wrote on a Wednesday.
It had been a busy day.
Colin completed his Eagle Project that day and the Boy Scout troop delivered it.
That was such a great project.
I wish I had written right after.
(I will never do it justice now.)

Dan said that the boys were great at handing out the gifts to the homeless as they waited in line for their dinner.
That night was Rigatony's night. The food was awesome.
Colin learned a lot about the homeless that night.
He was especially touched by the families,
and the children who are growing up in harder places.
It's heart breaking to watch.

Somehow, for me, every time I do something for the homeless, I imagine that I am erasing the pain I feel for my own sweet brother who battles a mental illness and has been nearly on the street for years. Nothing I ever give or say or do every really mends the hurt for me. Still, I believe I am contributing in some way, and it's all I can really do.

Here is the 'Numbers' break down for Colin's project:
He originally set a 100 kit goal (I thought that was too ambitious, but I never told him.)
180 kits were accomplished.
70+ hands touched the kits in some way by sewing, assembling or delivering.
Dozens of people contributed.
The estimated monetary value was approximately $1800.
(That's a lot for a 12 year old to collect the week of Christmas).
In all, the project took about 263 combined hours (not including any time people took to gather/purchase/deliver donations)
Our family cannot express enough how much we appreciate everyone who contributed.
It was awesome!

After all these hours of working on merit badges,
Colin was able to test all his skills on this project.
He needed managements skills, public speaking, conversation, budgeting, organization, even knot tying.
It's amazing how much 1 kid can learn and demonstrate during an Eagle Project.
I was very pleased to see him work so hard and achieve so much.
We prayed a lot during the project that he would handle the stress and have his needs met.
For a relatively faithless boy, he could easily see his prayers being answered.
I will forever be grateful to all who participated.

A huge thanks to everyone who made that project possible.
It was really amazing.
Colin kept commenting on the generosity.
I think he will always have a soft place in his heart for the homeless of the world,
and for those who so selflessly give.