About Me

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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I may not be his favorite parent, but he's my champion.

B's favorite parent is the hubs.  I know this, because I ask him.  I know it's wrong to put B on the spot  and ask such a question, but I have, I do, a couple of times a year, just to see what he would say.  And he tells me the truth, even though he's worried about how I'll feel, because we've created a safe environment for him to share and be honest with us.  That environment will get more and more vital as he enters the teen years...

I didn't always ask; he used to switch back and forth, each year.  The 1st year he was out of me, he was all about Mama.  Makes sense when Mama is your main source of food, right?  Year two, he was all about Daddy.  It went back and forth like that every year until B started 3rd grade, our 2nd year of homeschooling.  I guess he'd had plenty of me by then and the hubs has been his favorite ever since.

And that irked me.  I spend more time with B.  I have a much higher tolerance for his quirks than the hubs does.  I think I honor B's different way of doing things more than the hubs does.  But the hubs is B's hero, his playmate, his proof that no matter how old you get, potty talk and bodily outputs will always be funny to males.  @@

I finally got up the nerve to voice my juvenile, selfish and jealous feeling to the hubs recently.  I listed all the reasons from the previous paragraph of why I thought B should like me more than the hubs, yet no matter what the hubs does, he's still B's favorite!  "But he's your champion, Jessie," the hubs replied quietly.  "What are you talking about," I asked in frustration.

"You ran to the store one evening and I decided to pour myself a glass of wine," he replied.  "B got all up in my business, wagging his finger at me, and said, 'That's the wine Mama uses to make pot roast, Daddy.  I don't think you should be drinking it!'  And anytime he follows me to the basement while I'm doing laundry, he criticizes the amount of detergent I use.  'You only need a half a capful at most, Daddy!  You are wasting detergent and over-soaping your clothes!'  He sticks up for you, Jessie, when you're not around.  He's learning the proper way to treat a woman from you, as well as from me.  And not just when a woman is watching, but always.  That's a champion of women.  Your champion."

That made me happy, then I felt ashamed for being jealous.  But that little nugget of realization that the hubs provided has been invaluable to me since then.  It's a reminder that we're not raising him for us, we're raising a respectful, empathetic, loving, peaceful, productive member of society.  One who will be an example of love and respect for all and will touch everyone he meets, positively.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fairfax Symphony Orchestra's Christmas in Black & White

I entered a contest at Beltway Bargain Mom earlier this week and won tickets to see Christmas in Black & White, presented by The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.  Four silent Christmas movies, all in black & white and over 100 years old, were shown in the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax's Mosaic District.  The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra played during the movies and, in between each movie, members of The National Broadway Chorus sang Christmas carols.  Three of the films were created by Thomas Edison!

There were couples, groups of adults and families in the audience.  However, the conductor, Luke S. Frazier, mainly spoke to the children throughout the performance.  He really engaged B and the other children during his introduction as well as while describing each movie and its individual musical arrangement.

Mr. Frazier told the children that during one movie, A Winter Straw Ride, they were to have a snowball fight in the theater when they saw one start on the screen.  It was cute to see the children form imaginary snowballs and throw them at their siblings, parents or a complete stranger a few rows back!  B would bend over to the floor, "gather" snow into a ball, peek over the back of his seat and spy his target.  Then at the right moment, he popped up, threw his imaginary ball while whispering, "Wah-BAP!" and then duck back down quickly to avoid being hit with one himself.  LOL

B's favorite movie was The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus; he laughed and laughed during that one and the loved that the hero saved the day.  Even though these films had simple plots, were short and contained no dialog, the children knew what was going on.  They cringed, laughed and cheered, all at the appropriate moments.

Not only was B exposed to a movie genre he'd never seen before, we had a clear view of every member of the orchestra.  B and I were both impressed with one woman who made up the entire percussion section by herself!  The instruments she played that B and I could actually identify were multiple drums, triangle, xylophone, tambourine, chimes, sleigh bells and either a woodblock or a guiro.  However all the musicians were close and B could see their instruments, how they worked and pick each one out as they played.

I was surprised how easy it was to get in and out of the Mosaic District during rush hour traffic.  Parking was easy and plentiful and we grabbed dinner and browsed through Target before the performance started.  We kept saying that we can't wait to go back and show the hubs what a great center it is.

B and I had a great dinner-and-a-show date last night and I'm so glad we won the tickets!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

B Made a Christmas Memory Journal Ornament This Morning from The Library Adventure

The Library Adventure has this great free printable ornament for kids, a Christmas Memory Journal.  B completed the ornament this morning and we really like it.  It was simple to put together, thanks to the instructions.

I just wanted to share these two pages with y'all.  B is thankful for NERF, Apple, Family, Food and Friends.  And I just love what he wrote and drew on the What I Want to be When I Grow Up page - a movie maker.  His drawing of a director is so adorable!  But I am kind of prejudice…  ;o)

Everything Works Out For The Best In The End

I haven't said anything online to y'all about something that happened last week.  I've said it to a couple of friends in person and one in an email, but that's it.  I wanted to blog about it, to explain how at peace the three of us are with it and how we are honoring it, but no matter how many times I sat down to blog to y'all, nothing came out.  Then I got some good news this morning I really want to share.  However, in order for you to understand just how good this news is, I need to share the bad news with you, too.

I told y'all that we went to the Boston area for Thanksgiving this year.  My dad's mom (my Nana and B's GG - short for great gramma) is 96 yrs old and one of my aunts planned for us to get together and share Thanksgiving with Nana because who knows how much longer she'll be around.  Because I'm currently dealing with a health issue, I went back and forth on whether to go or not.  But I decided B and I should go and have a wonderful time with family.  Due to the government shutdown in October, the hubs is negative in his PTO (paid time off) and he was unable to go with us.

It was so wonderful to see aunts, uncles and cousins that I hadn't seen in years, but seeing my Nana was the best!  She' so small, yet full of energy.  And although her face has been wrinkled and her hands spotted for as long as I can remember, she has always had the softest skin I've ever touched.  Not even B's skin as a baby was as soft as Nana's.  Her sight, hearing and short-term memory are going, so it was quite overwhelming for her to be in a room of 60+ people (just a fraction of her family. BTW) all talking and coming at her for hugs.  We all wore name tags to help her out.  :o)  One of my uncles read a poem he'd written for Nana.  A cousin read a short story she'd written about Nana and Papa years ago.  A cousin's wife and daughter sang a song and that daughter also sang a solo while "dancing" a cup on a table (it was amazing).  B and my dad performed a rap about Nana's life that my dad, my brother and B had written.  It was a beautiful day!

I hugged her, told her I missed her and loved her very much.  I didn't want to let her go because I loved the softness of her cheek against mine, the smell of her shampoo.  She remembered who I was and who B was.  I will always treasure the memory of that day, that gift we all gave and received.

Five days later, on what would have been my Papa's 103rd birthday, Nana had stomach pains and was taken to the hospital in the evening.  At her age, if by some miracle she survived surgery, the doctors said recovery would kill her.  So she was made comfortable with pain meds and she passed away early the next morning.

She went quickly, she was living independently in her own apartment at the time and she had just been honored and loved on by her family.  I think it was a perfect time to go and I'm glad she did not slowly deteriorate over time.  I wonder if Papa finally called her home as a birthday present to himself.  :o)

Since returning from Thanksgiving, symptoms of other medical issues have arisen in me, possibly complicating the surgery I need.  I need another specialist and further testing to get a diagnosis and make sure my surgeon has the whole state of me before he starts drilling into my head.  And time is of the essence.  Therefore, the three of us decided not to go back up to Boston for Nana's funeral.  I have no regrets.

Tonight is the hubs' company Christmas party.  We have not been to an office Christmas party since before I got pregnant with B and were looking forward to going.  However, since my parents and my brother have gone up to the funeral, we no longer have a babysitter for tonight.  And that's OK!  The hubs is still going and he's driving a couple of his co-workers whose significant others cannot attend, as well.  B and I were going to have a holiday movie/popcorn/snugglefest tonight.

So we're all done with the sad stuff and now we're moving onto the good news!  Before going to bed last night, I entered a contest.  I saw a Facebook post announcing only 2 hours left to enter and I took a chance.  This morning, I received an email that I won the contest - 2 tickets to a family-friendly holiday event tonight.  So, now B and I will be going out on a date tonight!  We are both very excited!  We are all very blessed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

B's Letter to Santa

Two nights ago, B couldn't get to sleep.  He said right before he falls asleep, all kinds of ideas and thoughts come into his head but he never remembers them in the morning.  He wouldn't go to sleep that night because he didn't want to forget something.  He felt compelled to write Santa a letter and asked the hubs to bring him paper and pencil so he could do so.

He finally read the letter to me this afternoon before mailing it off.  I asked him to let me scan it first.

In case the picture is not clear, here is what he wrote:

"Dear Santa,

           Thank you.  Just plain old thank you.  I thank you for all you've done & not just for me but for what you've done for others & being a true symbol of Christmas spirit & joy.  Kids depend on you & believe in you with all their hearts.  Do you know what some people would give to have that?  But Christmas isn't about giving or getting.  It's love, joy & peace & the hope we give & the love we share. So have a Marry Christmas!!


B's Favorite Winter Drink: Cupcake Tea

Earlier this year I started drinking coffee after a friend made me the most perfect brew ever.  It was a breakfast blend with sugar and French Vanilla creamer and I now make it at home.  Occasionally, when B's asthma flairs up I let him have half a cup of coffee, but he can't have it regularly.  I also don't want him drinking hot chocolate daily.  He used to drink tea with just a little sugar or honey, but since he tasted my coffee, he hasn't been interested in tea.  Until I created a beverage just for him.

I fill a mug ¾ with water, plop in a tea bag (I use Sleepytime or plain green tea because it's that we have on hand, but you can use any flavor you like) and microwave it on the "Beverage" setting.  This way, most of the tea steeping happens while the water heats.  I'm all about saving time where I can.  And if I walk away from the tea for a few minutes while it steeps, I'll completely forget about it!

Next, I remove the tea bag, add a splash of honey and a splash of French Vanilla creamer, approx a tsp of each, and stir.  That's it!  I usually keep local honey in the house, but haven't had a chance to get any in a month.   My mom gave us this big bottle from BJ's, so we're using it up.  Slooowly.  ;o)

If B is impatient and just can't wait for his tea to cool a smidge before diving in, he'll throw an ice cube or two in there.

The first time I plopped this in front of B, he exclaimed, "You made me the perfect brew coffee?!"

"No.  I made you your own special drink."

"What is it," he asked, skeptically.

"Just try it."

He took a sip and smiles.  "It's tea?"  I nodded.  "It tastes just like a cupcake, Mom!"

And the name "Cupcake Tea" has stuck ever since.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Sounds of Authors

I've told you before, here, that I am not a fan of British authors and why.  My mom recently gave me a book that she enjoyed and thought I might like reading it to myself or to B - The Puppy That Came for Christmas: How a Dog Brought One Family the Gift of Joy.  I'd never heard of it, but since I was out of library books, I took it with me on our recent Thanksgiving trip to Boston.

I picked it up Thanksgiving night when I had some time alone and started reading it.  By the end of the 1st paragraph, I realized the author, Megan Rix, was British.  @@ Yes, I actually rolled my eyes when I realized she was British.  But it was the only thing I had to read so I plowed on.  I'm on chapter 2 and we have some things in common - infertility issues, in our 40s, never considered ourselves dog people - so I'm going to continue to read.

Once I realized she was British (BTW, it is PC to call them British?  Do they prefer English?  Do I, as an American, only call them British b/c that's what they are called in all of our American History books and movies?  Any thoughts?), I started "hearing" the words in my head with a British accent.  Does that happen to you?  It does to me every time.  I don't mean I read every book in my head with a British accent; I just do if the author is British.  Or English…  And if I actually know what an author's voice sounds like, I hear their voice in my head as I read.

I also read aloud to others with the same cadence and accent as an author, if I've heard them speak.  The first book I ever read aloud to the hubs was in 1996 on a car trip.  It was Couplehood by Paul Reiser and, since I was a fan of the TV show Mad About You, I knew how Mr. Reiser would sound if he was reading it.  It makes reading more interesting, don't you think?  When you read about the Hundred Acre Woods, don't you hear Pooh's voice in your head?  I would love to get a job recording audio books!

OK, that last statement was random.  I better quit while I'm ahead.  ;o)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Balance, that's what it's all about.

We received our share of stares and glares on our recent trip to Boston for a Thanksgiving family reunion.  Although B was in a good mood and enjoyed the adventure of a trip, that didn't mean it wasn't difficult for him. 

His Tourette-like coping mechanisms were in overdrive. There was no regular or predictable schedule, new places and spaces and only a couple of his own things around. I could have ridden him and made him stop, to make me and strangers around us more comfortable, but that would've made B feel even more uncomfortable. He'd only be able to hold it in so long before blowing up, anyway. 

But my job is not to make myself comfortable nor to worry about the comfort level of strangers. My job as a parent is to ensure my child's well-being. Now, I did ensure the personal space of others was not violated and he wasn't too loud in public; he saved that volume for the hotel room. 

All the time we spend together as a result of homeschooling has allowed me observe B and really get to know him.  I'm able to read the small, subtle signs and know he's not OK.  Sometimes I'm able to do something once I see those small signs, to prevent more obvious manifestations of his discomfort, sometimes not.  And when I'm not, I make sure he has space, that he knows I'm here to help if he needs it and help him figure out what he needs.

Quite often, what he needs is activity and to make noise.  He's an extrovert and gets his energy from outside stimulation, noise and being around people.  I'm an introvert and thrive on solitude and quiet.  Finding the balance between the two of us is tricky and I usually end up with the short straw.  ;o)

When we got together with some of our relatives for Thanksgiving, B was in his element.  There was over 60 people there and I was totally overwhelmed.  It was great to see them; most of them I hadn't seen in quite some time.  B was loving all the people, energy and conversation.  He went up to people and introduced himself with a firm handshake, taking off his hat first when it was a lady.  He loved answering the many questions he was asked and made a friend for life with a younger cousin.  He performed a rap for everyone about his 96 yr old great-grandmother and was a big hit.

After the meal and the performances and the cleanup, I was done.  I needed to go back to the hotel room, take off the heels, get into my PJs and be alone.  B was so disappointed when I said it was time to go; he was engaged in a game of Apples to Apples with aunts and cousins and, even though he'd never played before, he was winning.  My dad wasn't ready to go, either, so he and B stayed and my brother took mom and me back to the hotel.

Silence.  It was glorious.  I was alone for an hour and a half and recharged my batteries.  B came back to the hotel with his batteries recharged.  That reunion did him so much good, we were able to drive all the way home in one day instead of breaking the trip into two.  Balance, that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"These sidewalk funerals need to stop."

Yesterday afternoon, a 7 yr old girl and her mother were walking home from school in a Boston, Massachusetts suburb.  Another mother, in an SUV, sped down that same street, jumped the curb, took out a fire hydrant, a fence and killed the 7 yr old girl.  Her mother was seriously injured.  The mother driving the SUV was drunk.

At the scene of the accident today were flowers, stuffed animals, reporters, loved ones, strangers, tears, prayers. People visiting the site were interviewed and expressed outrage, sadness, sympathy, empathy. One woman's expression and words stood out the most to me. She wasn't crying, although there was pain on her face. Pain that ran deep and raw; pain that time could do nothing to heal.  She spoke with the kind of loving and sorrowful ache in her voice I would imagine God Himself feels when he looks down on what we do to each other.  She said, "These sidewalk funerals need to stop."

Sidewalk. Alone, with friends, with family.  Going to an appointment, taking a break from work, getting exercise, getting fresh air, enjoying nature, exploring food/sights/adventures. Exposed. In neighborhoods. 

Funerals.  Dying. Killing. With cars, guns, knives, drugs, fists, words, indifference.  Conscious  decisions to kill. Conscious decisions to not care nor think about how choices will effect others.  Not being able to recognize the value in a life if it has no value to me.

But every life has value to someone.  A partner, friend, co-worker, sister, brother, parent, child. We need to get that, believe that, see that, because "These sidewalk funerals need to stop."

Monday, November 18, 2013

B's YouTube Movies: NERF Bottle Battle, Part I

Empty 2 liter bottles come back from the recycle bin to avenge the liquid that was rightfully theirs. And try to kill B.

B is officially on YouTube

Ever since B took Apple's Movie Making Camp for Kids this past Summer, he's been making a lot of videos and begging us to put them on YouTube.  However, most of them have other children in them and not everyone wants their child on the internet.  Well, he made a new one yesterday evening and we finally agreed to put it up after his godfather agreed to put on the internet, too.  I'm sure this is the first of many to come.

So, here is B's video - Let's Dance:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Musings

I said goodbye to my mens at 8:40am.  They are heading West to meet up with other ladies' mens, to do and talk about mens' things.  So I have the house to myself.  *exhale*  That doesn't happen very often.  There's plenty to do - cleaning, laundry, change the bedding, pack B's things for his sleepover at Nana & Poppop's tonight, etc., etc., etc..

But I awoke with my period.  I'm tired.  I'm hurting.  I'm reminded for the 350+ time that I did not get pregnant this month.  This whole making meals several times a day, every day, for other people in addition to myself is bothering me today.  Payday was yesterday, and after the bills were paid I'm faced with the reality of what's left.

I'm not having a pity party, though.  I'm just assessing all that is and is not and deciding what, if anything, I'm going to do about all this reality and all that needs to be done.

I've decided.  I'm going to scale the refrigerator, grab the forbidden bag of all that is peanut butter that was confiscated from B's Halloween candy, curl up on the sofa, throw the sherpa fleece blanket over me (my favorite blanket that a wonderful friend gave me!), and watch what I want to watch.  Nothing animated and nothing on The Outdoor Channel.  I'll watch uninterrupted!  No one asking for something to eat.  No one asking where something is.  No one who, for the past 2 hours completely ignored me and refused to be engaged, suddenly wanting to describe in minute detail the Phineas & Ferb episode he just watched for the umpteenth time, one that I already know by heart.

*sigh*  I have to make another decision - what to watch.  A marathon of the 37 episodes of Law & Order (the original Law & Orders, none of this SVU or CI stuff) that are taking up space on the DVR? One of my favorite movies that no one else in this house ever wants to watch - The Wedding Date, Pride & Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightly, of course), Sense & Sensibility?  Maybe all of them.

I was just interrupted by another male!  One of the cats just came up and meowed at me.  Not a "hello, mom" meow, though.  It was a "my-sister-the-queen-has-sent-me-to-do-her-bidding-and-now-you-have-to-figure-out-from-me-what-she-wants-and-get-it-or-neither-one-of-us-is-going-to-be-left-alone" kinda meow.  It's a battle of wills.  I don't know why that female cat hasn't learned you can't win a battle of wills with me.  B learned a long time ago and life is easier for it.

Well, I need to get to getting' before my mens return.  I'm going straight to the couch.  I will not pass cat.  I will not collect 200 nuggets of Purina.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I've had this problem with my left ear for a few years.  It started when I was working a part-time at an after school care program.  Being around kids everyday, obviously I was exposed to more germs and 2 Winters in a row I got very bad cases of the flu.  Like, knocked on my ass for 7-10 days, no energy to move or do anything but in pain and so stuffy I couldn't sleep much, bad.  I got my very 1st ear infection during this time and it didn't seem to go away.  I was in pain for 6 months and bleeding from my left ear.

When the infection finally cleared, I had suffered hearing loss in that ear.  I went to an audiologist for a hearing test and he noticed a pin-size hole in my ear drum.  He said to give that time to heal, come back in a few months, then we'll reassess the hearing loss and see if anything needs to be done.  Well, a few months later my ear was finally feeling normal, I had gotten used to the hearing loss and I never went back to have my ear checked.  *slapping myself on the wrist*

Then in mid-September of this year, my ear started hurting and my hearing decreased even more.  Over the next 3 weeks, the pain got worse; it felt like I was being stabbed in the ear.  I also felt like there was something stuck in my ear canal (the place where were not supposed to stick a Q-tip but we all do because we can't stand to feel water in our ears).  So I made an appointment with an ENT.  After a round of oral and ear dropped antibiotics, hearing tests and a CT scan of my head and neck, I finally received a diagnosis on November 7th.  I have a mass in my ear.

What does that mean?  This mass, probably made up of harmless skin cells, has filled the space behind my ear drum, preventing the ear bones from vibrating normally, thus interfering with my hearing.  It continues to grow and pushed over my ear drum into my ear canal.  So, I really do have something in my ear canal and it has nothing to do with improper use of a Q-tip.  Phew!  Wouldn't want to get caught by the ENT for that offense!  ;o)  This mass is also growing down behind and under my ear.  The mass is grainy, like sand, so as it's grown, it has been rubbing away at my ear bones - another reason for my hearing loss.

How did this happen?  This can happen to people who have had ear tubes put in as a child (I did not) or who've had a whole in their ear drum at some point (I have).  Some skin cells travelled through that hole and have been multiplying.  The pain I feel is the erosion of my ear bones by the mass and it has subsided tremendously over the past weeks - a good and bad thing.  ;o)

What can they do?  My ENT said it will involve 2 surgeries, and I need someone more specialized than him to do them.  The 1st one, to go in and remove all parts of the mass and assess the state of my ear bones.  It is done in a hospital but it is only a few hours and will be outpatient.  The second surgery is to put in prosthetic ear bones/bone pieces to replace what has been eroded away.  Isn't that totally awesome?!?!?!  Did you even know that prosthetic ear bones existed?!  I sure as hell didn't!  I have appointments next week with 2 surgeons (because the hubs said if surgery is involved, then a 2nd opinion is to be had) to go over all my tests, listen to what their plan of attack is and, to basically interview them and see which one gives me the better vibe.

My ENT was great explaining all of this to me in detail and answering all of my questions.  I appreciated that he was upfront with me and was honest that this is a time sensitive issue, instead of being vague, referring me to a surgeon and leaving it to that doctor to tell me everything.  He assured me that this is a common issue and the mass is just skin cells.  Even though I never asked him, he said at least 3 times, "It's not a tumor."  Each time he did, I tried not to giggle because all I could think of was this:

LOL!  That line kills me!

After he'd explained everything and answered all my questions, he said, "I gotta say, you're handling this very well.  You're so calm."

"I don't worry unless there's something to be worried about.  You've explained everything to me so well and I'm just relieved to have a diagnosis that has a solution," I replied.

He said, "I wish I could be like you.  I'm a worry wart.  I worry about everything!"

"That's because you're a dad; It's your job," I replied.  "It's what my dad does and what my husband does.  So I don't need to."

Even though he said this is common, that cancer in the ear is extremely rare and this is just skin cells, he assured me that it will still be biopsied.  I asked if it could spread into my sinuses or throat since all of that is connected to the ear and he said no.  However, if left untreated, he can grow straight up into my brain or straight back into major blood vessels, so I should not delay on seeking treatment.  He also said that despite the efforts to remove the mass, a cell or two could be left behind and they would reproduce.  So, I'll need regular CT scans (I forgot to ask how frequently) for the rest of my life to keep tabs on it.

I am so excited that an end is in sight!  I am at peace and confident because God will be with me and will bear any worries that may come up.  But there's never such a thing as too many prayers, so I ask that you keep me in yours.  Thank you.

I'll keep you up to date when I know something new.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Thoughts on Christmas Cards

In my November 1st post, Halloween's over; time to tackle Christmas., I told you about my portable Christmas card station (PCCS).  I get a box or a box lid and fill it with everything I need to send Christmas cards - cards, envelopes, stamps, address book, list of recipients, pens, lap desk.  Then each day, usually after dinner but anytime I find a few minutes in my day, I'll work on the cards.  I thought you might want to see a picture of it.  :o)  I know there are a lot of cards in my PCCS, but I don't use up all the cards in a box in one year.  So I have lots of leftovers that I'll use again a few years later.

Anywho, I want to talk about what has happened to the custom of mailing Christmas cards over the last several years.  In my world, I saw a huge shift occur during the holiday seasons of 2007 and 2008 and I believe part of that had to do with the downturn the US economy was taking.  Most of the people I know either didn't send cards for the 1st time or really cut back on the number of cards they sent.  I get it.  It's an expense and time consuming!  I can't tell you how many times I heard, "I'm only going to send a Christmas card to someone who sends me a Christmas card first."  Very few cards were received because everyone was sitting around waiting for everyone else to send the 1st card!  LOL

I used to send out almost 200 cards due to my large family.  Doing cards then was a chore and not enjoyable at all.  I cut that amount down because I wasn't receiving a card back from most of those people.  Doing my 50-60 cards makes me happy now.  I still don't receive as many as I send and I am receiving less and less cards as each year passes.

It makes me sad, however, that Christmas cards appear less personal these days.  And in some instances, aren't even cards.  I say "appear" because there is a lot of effort and time spent on the creation of a Christmas mailing, but then it may arrive with no personalization - the address on the envelope is typed out and nothing has been handwritten on the mailing/picture/collage.

When B was younger, I even created those beautiful Christmas mailings online with a picture or a collage of pictures on it.  I loved that they came with envelopes but the stress of finding the perfect picture/pictures on my unorganized computer was too much for me.  But I always wrote a personal message on the back before sending them.

I noticed something, though, when I was sending my prefab mailings - I was receiving mostly prefab mailings.  I like to receive cards!  I get a thrill when I open the flap of an envelope and see that it contains a card.  Before pulling it out, I get a glimpse of the front and try to guess what the rest is going to be.  "I see snow!"  "I bet that's the robe a wise man." "Is that the side of a snowman?"  Then I slide out the card and drink in the front picture.  Religious?  Season's greetings?  I love them all!  After I've had my fill of the picture and wording on the front, there comes the anticipation of the inside.  "What will it say?"  "What's the rest of the saying that was started on the front?"  "Will it be signed by a person, with a real pen?"  "Will we be able to read the handwriting?"  I've never met someone who liked their own handwriting.  We always think our writing looks terrible and people tell me they don't write in cards because of that.  But it's never as bad as you think it is and we love to sit around in the evening and decipher handwriting.  It's a family activity!

I hang every card and mailing we receive on the back of our front door so that we, and everyone who enters this house, can enjoy them.  The hubs likes to come home form work and see what new ones arrived that day.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not judging anyone who creates a mailing with pictures and pre-prints one holiday message and the family name for every card.  I am not judging anyone for using a mail merge to print out the envelopes.  I know the amount of time and energy it takes to create those things and I myself can't handle all that.  If we're going to spend time and money creating something, it needs to be something we like and in a way we like to do it.  I just grieve that the technology allowing us to do new things faster, neater, prettier means that some old ways will be discontinued.  

Remember Frank Navasky from You've Got Mail?  His unwillingness to trade in typewriters for a computer and his love for not only the sound of a typewriter's key but also the uneven, "personalized" typeface created by different typewriters is how I feel about Christmas cards that can open and have a handwritten message inside just for me.

I love the better quality of movies on my DVD player and am glad it was invented.  However, I'm still sad that the family Betamax had to go recently because no electronics shop could repair it.  I had movies in Beta form that were either so old or unpopular, they weren't remade in DVD format so I will never enjoy them again.

I know that if I get a thrill out of opening a Christmas card with a handwritten message inside, others must too, so I like to provide that.  I do enjoy receiving your collages that show me the highlights in your family's lives over the past year.  I read everyone of y'all's Christmas letters and laugh, applaud and cry with you.  And I don't need to get anything at all to know you care, so don't stress if Christmas cards/mailing are one more thing you don't need on your plate this time of year.  

If you've missed the Christmas cards of yore, let me know, and I'd be happy to add you to my Christmas card list!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween's over; time to tackle Christmas.

I can see the eye rolling and hear the sighs and groans already.  "But what about Thanksgiving?!" y'all cry. I don't ignore Thanksgiving.  In fact, it's my favorite holiday of the year!  Food, family, giving thanks, counting blessings - that's what I'm all about!

But seriously, does Thanksgiving preparation take up the entire month of November?  No.  And if it does for you, I'd suggest reevaluating your Thanksgiving plans!  We host my parents and brother for the Thanksgiving meal.  We all know what we're having every year - turkey, stuffing, rolls, potatoes, veggies, gravy, desserts; we all know on what day it occurs; there are no presents to buy or wrap.  Not a whole lot to do.

This year we are actually going to New England to spend Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family.  My Nana is 96 years old and as much of the family that can is getting together to celebrate since we haven't done that since before B was born.  But still, a little clothes packing and hotel reservation making is all that has been added to my Thanksgiving planning this year.

But Christmas?!  That's a whole different ballgame!  Decorating, buying presents, wrapping presents, baking goodies to share with friends and neighbors, sending Christmas cards.  Then there's the fun stuff to do - make sure all the traditional Christmas specials on TV are watched, go caroling, drive around and look at Christmas lights, visit Santa, attend our 1st office Christmas party in well over a decade!  And only 24 days in which to do it?  Not for me!

I want to make sure I can not only do all that fun stuff but also enjoy it without watching the clock, my mind racing over a long list of things to do.  That is why I start tackling Christmas on November 1st.  Actually, the hubs has been buying Christmas presents since the beginning of the Summer, not only spreading out the cost of Christmas, but also eliminating things off our "to do" list already.

I got the idea years ago from The Fly Lady.  She "Cruises Through The Holidays" every year.  She said to pretend that you are departing on December 1st for a 3-week cruise and you need to make sure everything is done for Christmas before you leave.  That year that I followed her cruising to a "T" we started around October 15th.  Each day there was a "mission" to do - planning, making lists, shopping, wrapping, writing cards, etc. - all spread out over 6.5 weeks.

By the time December 1st rolled around, I was finished!  Everything that needed to be done was and I got to relax during December!  Invitation to a holiday party?  I was there because I didn't have to go shopping in the evenings after the hubs came home to watch B.  You want me to sit and watch the Grinch show with you, again, or you want to help me with my holiday baking?  Sure!  I had time to watch that show and plenty of time to have a baking helper, no need to stay up all night frantically baking and getting a half-assed result.

Now, I haven't gotten everything done by December 1st since then, but it opened up my eyes that enjoying the month of December is a heck of a lot better than working through it for everyone else's enjoyment.  Therefore, I start November 1st, I make a plan and I get as much done as I can.

First of all, the hubs and I sit down to make the gift list - who's getting a gift and what ideas do we have for those gifts.  The more ideas the better because things tend to run out this time of year.

Secondly, I decide what I'm going to bake and/or make, who's going to get something homemade and what supplies I need.  Each year that B gets older, he can help more and more with these items.

Thirdly, I set up my portable Christmas card station.  I get a box or a box lid and fill it with everything I need to send Christmas cards - cards, envelopes, stamps, address book, list of recipients, pens, lap desk.  Then each day, usually after dinner but anytime I find a few minutes in my day, I'll work on the cards.  

Some years I've done a few cards a day, from start to finish; some years I'll do them in stages.  For example, I may go through the cards, pick out the appropriate card for each recipient (some are happy to receive a religious card, others prefer to receive a seasonal one), put it in an envelope and just write their name on the front of the envelope.  I may do some of them or I may do all of them in one sitting, depends on how much time I have or if I get interrupted.

Next time I sit down to work on the cards, I'll decide what personal message I'm going to write inside.  I'll come up with 1 - 3 appropriate messages and write them down so I don't forget.

Each day I'll do a little more.  Write my message and sign the inside of some cards or address some envelopes or do some cards all the way to sealing the envelope or some days all I have the energy to do is stick on return address labels.  I used to handwrite our return address on each envelope, but last year and this year, we're receiving those free self-adhesive labels from a magazine to which the hubs subscribes.

By doing this, I usually have all of my Christmas cards signed, sealed and stamped by Thanksgiving and I mail them between December 10 - 15.

After getting the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning, the hubs gets the tree out of the basement and sets it up in the living room.  While I open up all the branches, he brings up the Christmas decorations.  After our meal, my parents, brother, the hubs, B and I go for a walk.  The fresh air and smells of all the meals are wonderful!  When we get back to our house we decorate the tree and house for Christmas.  Many hands make light work!  Once we've decorated, then we have dessert.

The weather gets colder and the days get shorter, so November is a perfect month for B and I to get our craft on and create our homemade presents.  Then our house stays festive in December with the aroma of baking.  This year, I intend to sign up for the 1 month free trial of Amazon Prime from Thanksgiving to Christmas and do as much shopping on there as possible.  The full, 1 year membership is on my Christmas list.  :o)

OK, I've gone on long enough!  I hope you give it a try this year and get whatever you can done early so you can enjoy December as much as possible.  Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My New Guilty Pleasure

A couple of weeks ago, I started watching The Wendy Williams Show.  I'm a big Steve Harvey fan so I watch Family Feud and kept seeing commercial's for Wendy's show.  I originally decided to tune in because she was going to cover some topic on the next day's show I was interested in (although I can't remember what it was right now) and liked what I heard.

I really relate to her personality.  She's funny, if you ask her for advice she gives it to you straight, she's honest and open about her own life (wigs, plastic surgery, miscarriages, motherhood, life of a Jersey girl), she has celebrity friends in her head - we have so much in common!  And her version of Joey Tribbiani's "How you doin'?" is hilarious!

I haven't watched celebrity gossip shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight since I was in college; I just haven't cared about their problems.  But now my girl Wendy fills me in each morning about what's going on with who, as well as giving her opinion about it, and it's light fun to me.

It's like sitting down with my bestie, over a cup of coffee, and catching up on people we know.  It's a nice escape from my own problems for 15 minutes each day, and I like it.  I usually just watch her "Hot Topics" segment in the beginning of the show unless she has on a guest later in the show in whom I'm interested.

So there you go - my guilty pleasure.  What's yours?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

President in a Bag - Thomas Jefferson

In September, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag - George Washington.

As you can see, one of our cats wouldn't get out of the picture.  Everyone loves American History in our house!  So, here are the five items B selected to represent our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson:

#1  A Pen.  Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence.

#2  A Wallet.  Thomas Jefferson oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency.

#3  A Map of Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson was born in Virginia, he served as Governor of Virginia and his father, Peter Jefferson, a surveyor, helped create the 1st map of Virginia.

#4  A book.  Thomas Jefferson wanted to create a public university that was not associated with a church.  In order to fund the building of The University of Virginia, he sold his personal book collection to the Library of Congress.

#5  A Rock.  Thomas Jefferson is one of four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, as a memorial to his contribution to expanding the United States.

President Jefferson in a bag was pulling teeth from B.  John Adams is his favorite president (so far), so he wasn't really interested in moving onto the next one.  Although, when he was reading about Jefferson, he would call out to me facts that he found cool or amazing.  But he dragged his feet on the bag and I had to prompt him.

The hubs and I love when he presents his items to us because we are learning new facts.  B reads books about each president on his own, so we don't know everything he does.  Hopefully his lack of enthusiasm over this president won't continue through the rest...

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag in these posts:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reader Question: "What cookbooks are in your kitchen?"

I've had a request from a reader to reveal what cookbooks I not only own but from which I actually cook.  Despite this day and age of the internet, and even the recent goldmine of Pinterest, I still have cookbooks and refuse to throw some of them out because they are invaluable to me.  I thought this was a great question, so here we go...

#1 Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 10th Edition
This is a 1,000+ page cooking "bible".  This is a gift that our mothers and their mothers received at their bridal showers to teach them how to cook (if they did not already know).  A few years ago, we decided to add baked to our potato repertoire.  I hadn't baked a potato in I don't know how long, so I went to my BH and G book and looked up "Potato, baked p. 904".  I need to consult page 904 so frequently that I have ear-marked it.  It tells me how to bake white potatoes and sweet potatoes in the oven and in the microwave.  Since I'm getting up there in age, I cannot waste precious brain cells with memorizing these details.  That is one of the many, many reasons I keep this very valuable cooking "bible".

#2 Any and all Season's Best cookbooks from The Pampered Chef
If you've ever been to a Pampered Chef show you know about these gems.  32-page cookbooks full of great recipes for appetizers, entrees and desserts for $1! Their Chocolate Pecan Lattice Tart from the Fall/Winter 2006 edition has made every guest of mine who's tried it very happy and me very popular!  These little cookbooks also make great gifts.

#3 Southern Living Ultimate Book of Appetizers, 2001
I bough this little 48-page cook, that looks just like the paperback Pampered Chef $1 ones, from a Southern Living home show.  Does Southern Living still have a home show business?  Anywho, it's a great hostess book to have.  The most used recipe that, on it's own, has been worth the cost is the Creamy Pumpkin Dip.  Once I've served it, I get asked for the recipe and I get asked to make it again and again.

#4 The Pampered Chef All The Best
A great cookbook for entertaining or feeding your family and another great gift for the new cook.  You'll never go wrong when you entertain with Pampered Chef appetizer recipes!  This book has my popular apps - Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Tomato Basil Squares, Tex Mex Chicken Melts and more.  Plus lots of good for the soul dinners and desserts.  No one gives you better wreath-shaped, filled crescent roll dinner ideas than The Pampered Chef.

#5 The Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner
This is a great cookbook for us busy moms who don't want to or can't spend a lot of time in the kitchen every day.  There are 4 sections - poultry; fish and seafood; beef and pork; meatless.  Some of their recipes that have become staples in our dinner rotation are: Lightening Fast Veggie Chili, Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Ham, Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Skillet and Sun Chip Chicken (B's all-time favorite dinner).

#6 and #7 The Pioneer Woman's first 2 Cookbooks 
Ree Drummond and I are kindred spirits; we have so much in common!  We're both redheads; married to hot, strong, humble men; love to cook; have our awkward moments; homeschool; love to see the beauty in nature; make lots of money blogging for our millions of readers...OK, maybe not that last one.  ;o)  But we love a lot of the same foods and both the hubs and I use her cookbooks.  Her Restaurant-Style Salsa and Pico de Gallo are staple condiments in our house now.

#8  and #9 Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Now, I don't own these books, although they've been on my Christmas list for 2 years now.  But I check them out from the library frequently because Dr. Hertzberg and Ms. Francois have finally gotten me to love baking my own bread.  These books are very popular in my county's library system because I have to return them due to others' requests.  But I just get myself back on the waiting list and check them out again when it's my turn.

I do have other cookbooks on the shelves that I use infrequently or not at all (in fact, the hubs has asked me to please cull through the cookbooks) but these are the ones out of which I get a lot of use.

Thank you for your question, reader; this was fun!  If you have a question or a topic you'd like to hear my opinion on, email me at youmeandb1@gmail.com or post it to my Facebopk page, whichever you feel more comfortable doing, and maybe I'll feature it here.  :o)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Waiting On A Tow Truck

For the last 2 years, I feel I've spent more time waiting on tow trucks than I have on lesson planning.  Thank goodness we have wonderful car insurance that offers us a free tow per incident instead of limiting us to a certain number per year because we've had incident after incident with our 2 cars!

We finally had to say goodbye to my favorite car I've ever owned in the beginning of the year.  I loved my wagon!  Bluey was 3 when we bought her.  We had 9 wonderful years together and then 2 years of towing.  The hubs and 2 friends even replaced the transmission in the wagon 4 years ago, she was that important and beloved to us.  She was the only car in which B remembered riding.  But we had to let her go.  She was spending more time out of commission than in drivable condition, but it was still hard for me to let her go.  *sniff, sniff* 

Thankfully, my parents let us borrow one of their cars in the Spring because they had a houseguest who brought 2 cars of his own into their driveway.  Well, that houseguest is still there since the necessary remodel of his home is taking longer than expected.  But, thankfully, it's allowed us to have 2 cars.

Except when Hagrid, the truck we own, is being towed.  *sigh*  He's waiting outside for the tow truck to come get him.  But what Hagrid does not know, is that he is being towed away for the last time.  I'm done.  I'm done with holding my breath every time I turn the key to start a car, wondering if our plans for the day will get cancelled or if I'll get stuck somewhere and have to call my neighbor to come get us.

So, now we have 1 borrowed car from my parents, 3 bicycles and 6 feet.  :o)  And so begins the search for another used, cheap, reliable port-a-bomb for my family.

There goes Hagrid and Hootenanny in the oven.
While we waited for the tow truck to arrive this morning, I asked B what he wanted for breakfast.  "Pancakes!" was his response.  *sigh*  I really dislike making pancakes and vowed to never do it again once I found the Hootenanny recipe.  So I told him I'd make Hootenanny, which made him start singing our Hootenanny song, and I went to the kitchen to mix it up.

Only there was a problem.  There was no all-purpose flour in the pantry.  I dug through the pantry and found only whole wheat flour, rye flour and bread flour.  I went downstairs and searched the extra pantry shelves and found only self-rising flour.  Crazy!  Since it was in the low 40s and I was waiting on a tow truck, riding my bike to the store was not an option.  Back to the pantries I went.  I finally found all-purose flour hiding under egg noodles in the basement.  Phew!

B gets overly attached to everything, so the Hootenanny cheered him up after saying goodbye to Hagrid.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Using My Dad's Favorite Childhood Books in Our American History Lessons

My parents, like most parents I'm sure, were hesitant and worried when we announced we were pulling their only grandchild out of public school to homeschool.  But after seeing the positive changes in B's stress level and personality, hearing him share what he learns and even teaching him some lessons themselves, they are our biggest supporters.  Every June, my dad asks for my school supply wish list and provides us with what we need.

This past June, I told my parents we were going to take a break from world History and start on American History.  To my surprise, when dad dropped off our requested school supplies there was also a box with the above pictured books in it.  Twenty-six books (there are only 25 in the picture because we are currently reading about The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion) from the Childhoods of Famous Americans Series.  My dad's books were published in the 1940s.

These books were and still are very precious to my dad.  He loved reading them when he was a child.  My Nana had even written in some of them the dates on which the books were given - birthdays and Christmases starting in 1956.  He lectured both me and B about being careful with them, not drawing in them nor bending the pages.  I'm so grateful he has shared these with us!

The ones we have range in time from James Oglethorpe through John F. Kennedy.  They narrate the childhoods of these men for most of the book and then at the end explain what they accomplished as adults.

The illustrations inside are simple, yet beautiful.  Look at the book, on the right, closed.  The pages are all different widths and uneven, a testament to their age.  :o)

I love books, love the smell of them, the feel of them.  These books are such a blessing and we are reading them when the subject of the book fits into the time period of American History we are covering.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What I Dislike About Homeschooling

After completing my July 2012 series, 31 Reasons The Hubs and I Have Lasted 17 Years, I received comments on Facebook and in person about doing others.  I immediately thought about doing one about the downside of homeschooling.  A tongue-in-cheek list of the negatives, because our family, our relationships and our lives have only gotten better with homeschooling.  But I was confident that I could come up with at least 10 "bad" things about homeschooling.

I came up with one right away.  Well here we are, 14+ months later, and I've not been able to come up with 9 other negatives about homeschooling!  I've only come up with 1 more.  So, I've given up of on the series idea.  I've let go of trying to find 10 "bad" things about homeschooling.  I think it's wonderful that after 14 months, I could only come up with 2!  Here we go...

#1.  I had to break up with my vibrator.  
B and I are together all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  We don't have to be in the same room or on the same floor at all times, but we are in the house together.  When B was in public school, even half-day kindergarten, I at least had time alone in the house to be with myself.  Not since we started homeschooling!  He stopped taking naps years ago, so that window of opportunity is shut for good.

And believe me, I've tried.  I know what you're thinking -  I'm a horrible, disgusting, slutty mom for trying to use her vibrator with a conscious kid in the house.  No, I'm a homeschool mom who applies learning to everything I do and I did a Science experiment.  I proposed a hypothesis to myself - B will not hear my vibrator under the covers, in my bedroom, behind the closed door, while he is watching TV downstairs with snacks he rarely gets.  Then I tested my hypothesis by doing an experiment.  Finally, I analyzed the data I had gathered during my experiment and came to the conclusion that I had to break up with my vibrator.

I must have been a little too eager to get upstairs.  Or maybe he was (rightly) suspicious of me allowing him to watch something I'd never allowed to be viewed in our house before and the free reign I gave him with the Halloween candy while he watched the show.  Regardless, he came knocking and, upon discovering the bedroom door was locked, he was not going away.  The mood was ruined for me and I've never tried again.  *sigh*

#2.  I can't purge his toys without getting caught.
When he was in preschool and then public school, I had time without B to cull through the toy bins and get rid of the items that were broken or hadn't been played with or even remembered existed in several months.  I'd separate out the items to go and clean and bag them up while he was a school.  Even if he came home before all the Freecyclers had picked up the toys I was getting rid of, B didn't know what was in the bags!  If he asked, I just told him, "stuff for Freecycle", and he let it drop.

The next time he'd go to the toys bins, he knew something was different, something wasn't quite right; he just couldn't put his finger on it...   Ahhh...the good 'ole days.

Now I have to put up with, "Hey! I've been looking for that forever!" and "But that's my favorite toy!" and "I'm going to start playing with it again right now."  Don't get me wrong, the stuff still goes.  I just no longer get the peaceful satisfaction of decluttering with no one being the wiser.  I got a sick amusement from pulling one over on him.  If my 23 yr old self could see what I got excited about now...  :-P

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why do we call the reproductive talk with our kids "the birds and the bees"?

Mom, why is it called "the birds and the bees"?  This question came at 11:05am today while B was emptying the dishwasher.  Good question!  Looking to animals to explain our bodies is a frequently used concept.  For example, the book Everyone Poops.  But why birds and bees for reproduction?  Off to the internet I went and found the answer to his question.

Birds laying eggs = females releasing eggs.  Bees transport pollen from flower to flower = males releasing sperm to fertilize eggs.  Makes complete sense!  If I had actually taken a few minutes to think about it before looking it up, I might have made the connection myself.  Then again, I might have gotten distracted by the 20+ other things on my mind.

Anywho, I answered B's question and can honestly tell the hubs when he comes home that, "Yes, lessons took place today."  ;o)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Hubs Isn't Perfect, You Know

I say that, because a lot of women have told me that they think he is the "ideal man".  He cooks, declutters, cleans, does the laundry, thoroughly enjoy being involved in our son's life, doesn't "babysit" his own child, is strong and protective when it's warranted, is handsome and sexy, makes me laugh everyday and can make my entire body tingle with the slightest touch.

But he definitely isn't perfect.  Just like any partner does, he knows how to push my buttons and can annoy the hell out of me.  I'm all about disclosure and am honest with y'all about me and my imperfections, so I've gotten the hubs' permission to share some of his.

Here are 5 imperfect things about the hubs I don't like:

  1. He has these black and white rules of life that make no sense and drive me insane. For example, it's fine to eat breakfast foods at dinner but me eating dinner foods for breakfast is a crime against nature in his book.  Seriously, there are much more important things in this world to worry about.
  2. For being such a neat freak, cleaner and silent hater of how messy I keep this place, he leaves his dirty socks all over the house.  Sometimes, a sock will be on a different floor than it's mate because they were removed hours apart!  Once they leave his feet, they are invisible to him.  I've even fought the urge to pick them up to see how long he'd go before doing it himself.  Two weeks.  And only then did he pick them up because he was completely out of socks.
  3. Most of the time he won't turn the TV off.  He will be the only one watching the TV yet when he exits the room for good, he leaves it on.  ERR!  Such a waste of electricity and added noise pollution I don't need with B reciting lines from songs or movies over and over and over...
  4. He constantly tries to regulate my body temperature for me.  He's very observant.  He notices when I get up to put on a sweater, socks and/or slippers (because I'm cold) or when I change out of long clothes and put on shorter ones (because I'm hot).  As soon as I make a move like that, he goes to the thermostat and adjusts it.  If I put on more layers, he turns the heat up; if I change into cooler clothes he turns the A/C down.  I know what y'all are thinking - "That's so considerate!" or "I wish my husband paid attention to me like that."  No, it's not!  I have been asking him, telling him, begging him for 65 years (that's how long he said he's been married to me today) to stop.  You know why?  Because 10 minutes after I put that sweater on, I'm roasting.  Ten minutes after going upstairs, finding a cooler outfit, changing into it and coming back downstairs, I am freezing.  I am back in the same predicament, uncomfortable temperature-wise, just at the opposite end of the thermostat now.  *sigh*
  5. No matter how many times I ask him to, he does not turn down the volume on the TV or computer before turning them off.  So when he comes downstairs at 5:30am and decides to update his timecard before going to work, I am jerked awake by the loud "BWOOOOONG" the computer makes as it boots up (do they still call turning on a computer "booting up"?  I'm dating myself here...)  On the rare occasion he does turns off the TV, it's always at night and the volume is left pretty high because he was cooking in the kitchen and wanted to hear the game on the TV in the family room.  If I get up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep or I get up with the hubs and B is still asleep, I'll turn the TV on to watch the news or a DVR'd show I can't watch with B around.  I don't know about y'all's TVs, but when we turn ours on, the volume and mute buttons are not activated until 11.25 seconds after the TV has been turned on.  Those seconds might as well be minutes and by the time I've launched the remote across the room at the power button on the TV, B has been startled awake and is screaming because he thinks were under attack.
So there you go; the hubs is human, after all.  And please know, these five are not the only things that bother me about him, but these are the major offensives in my book.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I didn't want to go to Bunco tonight.

I didn't want to go to Bunco tonight.  The hubs and I have not been gellin',parenting-wise 4 days in a row, we were out all day doing errands, I am not feeling well and not sleeping well.  Basically I was a tired whiner with my cranky pants on today.

While my family was good enough to be "blessed" with my disposition, I didn't feel the Bunco group deserved to have it.  But pulling out 1.5 hours before it was to start was not cool.

I knew my friend who was hosting would serve a wonderful dinner, because she always does.  I sucked it up and headed out the door and the hubs could not get the door closed behind me fast enough (who could blame him?).

Dinner was wonderful.  It was Fallish and plentiful and warmed me from the inside out.  The house was decorated for the season by her adorable son.  I laughed and laughed.  I hugged my friend whom I had not seen in a while.  I came away with 2.5 times more money than I had paid into the pot.  I'm so glad I went!

This happens to me a lot, when I have plans to leave the house solo.  I am an introvert.  I get my energy from being alone, not from other people.  I don't like to be social.  Becoming a mom forced me out of my shell because if you don't speak up, reach out, connect with and talk to other moms, you will go insane!  But we are well beyond the playgroups of baby-, toddler- and preschool-hood.  B has his own friends and they can get together without every mom being present in the room all the time.

So I just want to crawl back into my shell and be content.  But I can't be, really.  I like friends, I need friends and I know I won't have any unless I cultivate the relationships.  I agonize and worry over most social gatherings but after they are over, I feel the same - glad I did it.  Going out of the house is like exercising or going to church; I don't want to do it, don't want to put in the effort, but when I do, I'm so glad I did!  Probably not as glad as the hubs was tonight, though.  ;o)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm Sad Suburgatory Did Not Return This Fall to ABC

Did y'all watch the ABC show Suburgatory?  I did, for many reasons.  It was downright funny.  Like, Modern Family funny.  It poked fun at the Stepford-like communities.  The Washington, D.C. area has some of those, but we can't be the only ones, since Suburgatory writers depicted them so well.  Ana Gasteyer's character was one I loved to hate one minute and felt sympathy for the next.  But it also tackled some serious issues, showed us the perspective of both the parents and the kids and gave me welcomed advice and insight into the teenage years that I am dreading.

Kids need to know, believe, that even if, when, they shout, "I HATE YOU!" at us (after we've disciplined them/told them no, etc.), that it won't change the way we feel about them.  We're still here. We're not going anywhere and we won't send them away, either.  We still knock on their slammed bedroom doors that night and let them know dinner is ready, even if they choose not to join us.  They need to know that whatever goes wrong in this world, in this house or inside themselves, we've got their backs!

The season one finale is saved on my DVR.  The words at the end of that show are so powerful, I wanted to keep them; to replay them when I find myself in that place.  The voiceover from Tessa, the teenaged main character, said, "The parent/child relationship is a strange one.  You grow up thinking they're super heroes who can do no wrong.  But then one day the cape comes off, and you see them for who they really are.  And if you don't like what you see, tough luck; you're stuck together.  Why?  Because you're family."

Those words are "bruteful", as Glennon at Momastery.com says.  It's a major turning point in our parent/child relationship.  It will happen.  And what happens next will depend on how we, as parents, have chosen to interact with our children up to that point.  Were we parents, disciplinarians, admitting our humanness/our own mistakes openly, setting the best example, apologizing or not apologizing when necessary, calling them on their shit and ensuring they towed the line with manners, respect, truthfulness, gratefulness, and service to others?  Or were we more concerned with appearing cool, being their friend or giving them whatever they wanted to distract them so we could pursue our own interests, uninterrupted?

Being a parent is the hardest job ever.  We are forming human beings from scratch and, eventually, unleashing them onto the world to not only make their way of it successfully, but also to ensure no need for them to come back and be supported by us.  They need to know we are here for them - to cry to, to get advice from, to be proud of them - but the goal is to set them free and marvel how they decide to fly.  And then have a new stage of our relationship - one of equality, respect and acceptance of our lifestyles.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kids Halloween Party

B has always wanted to throw a costumed Halloween party so we finally did it this year.  I don't know who had more fun - me planning, buying and creating for the party or the kids at the party.  :o)  When we got down to the wire, the hubs and I were pretty frantic right before the party started.  Thank goodness my BFF showed up to finish the cupcakes for me and one of the moms stayed during the party to take pictures.  I ran up for a shower 10 minutes before the party started!

The first thing I did was create a Halloween Party Ideas board on Pinterest.  I definitely did not use all the ideas that I pinned but if I did not have them all in a central location, I'd never remember them.  Although we purchased so many party items from our local Dollar Tree, the gas used during the repeated trips up there probably negated the fact that everything was $1.  LOL

I downloaded and printed the skull and candy corn invitations from Do It Yourself Invitations.  I would have preferred an invitation that was spookier or at least was mostly black and orange, but B liked this one the best, so we went with it.  I printed them on card stock, put them in manila envelopes that B decorated with spiders, ghosts, etc. and we hand-delivered them.  In addition to day, time and RSVP info, I put this on the cards:

We're having a party! We hope you can come.
Get dressed in your costume. We'll have lots of fun!
The party was in between lunch and dinner, so I only provided a few snacks and cupcakes.  B wrapped mason jars with white crepe paper and added google eyes for mummy glasses, writing each guest's name on the back.  I cut up carrots, red pepper and broccoli and served it with my go-to dip: bottled ranch dressing, a minced clove or 2 of garlic and dried dill weed.  Make it at least a couple of hours before serving to get the flavors to meld.  I also made Money Saving Mom's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (a fav in our house) and witch's brooms made out of pretzel sticks and cheese sticks I cut into fringe.

I made Joy the Baker's Brownie Bottom Ice Cream Cupcakes with cookies n cream ice cream and topped them with a dollop of buttercream icing instead of whipped cream.  I needed something more solid to hold the cupcake topper, The Partiologist's Stained Glass Pumpkins.  While I showered, my BFF made the pumpkins.

For the goodie bags, I was proactive and went to Walmart last month to take advantage of the back to school sales. I bought each child a box of colored pencils, a box of crayons and split 2 boxes of 20 pencils each among the 8 guests - all that cost $1 per child.  I know all the children had just bought supplies for school, but all those supplies were taken to school; these goodie bag items were for use at home.  I had originally planned to use a pack of goodie bags I bought at a yard sale for $0.50, but I could not fit the Honeycrisp Apples in them, so I got cute jack-o-lantern bags from Walmart for $0.97 each.  B filled the goodie bags and made tags for them with each guest's name.

Now onto the activities.  We checked Halloween CDs out of the library and had music playing when the guests arrived.  B held a Monster Mash dance party in the front room until everyone had arrived.  Then I had all the kids sit down for the mummy game.  I bought a bag each of Halloween erasers, vampire teeth, glow-in-the-dark snakes and bugs at the Dollar Tree and wrapped them up inside 3 or 4 rolls of white crepe paper.  I worked on that for 2 hours, while watching TV, the night before the party.  Sometimes there was only 1 foot of crepe paper between doodads and sometimes there was 5 feet between them.  Each child took a turn unrolling the crepe paper until they got a doodad, ripped off the crepe paper they'd unwound and wrapped it around themselves.  Then they passed the ball to the next child.  You can see B, above, with paper wrapped around his head and in his mouth are a pair of vampire teeth.  He had gotten sweaty in his Angry Birds costume while dancing, so I made him take it off to cool down.  Each child collected 4 or 5 doodads and then we put them in their goodie bags for safe keeping (that's why B labeled each bag with a name).

By the time the mummy game was over, Miss Lyn and Francesca, our face painter and balloon artists, had arrived and set up.  The kids were not interested in face paintings to begin with but they were enamored with the wonderful balloon creations the ladies made!  Snakes, horses, light sabers, a green pig to go with B's Angry Birds costume, an octopus and many more.  Anything the kids asked for, they could make.  Below you can see B's face painting - very sinister looking and exactly what B asked her to do - and holding his Angry Bird pig while in costume.

Once everyone received a balloon creation, I herded the kids outside to decorate pumpkins while they took turns getting face paintings.  I bought 3 packages of 6 jars of paint, some brushes and 2 packages of glitter glue pens at the Dollar Tree and small pumpkins from a local farm.  The kids had a great time painting Count Pumpcula, Darth Vader, a Mincecraft Creeper, a fiery graveyard of zombies and more on their gourds.

Some of the kids finished their pumpkin painting early and we had a pumpkin roll game.  Two opponents had to roll their pumpkin across the yard using a broom.  It proved pretty difficult for all the kids except one - he dominated this game.  It didn't matter which pumpkin nor which broom he used, he just flew down the yard!

Once the pumpkin and face paintings were all done, I handed out cupcakes and we all went outside to eat them.  Then we all went back inside to wash up.  B had requested that his guests bring their scooters and helmets to the party, so after washing up, we all went into the alley out back and scooted some of that sugar off.  I had let all the parents know that we would be in the alley at the end of the party so they should come around back to pick up their kids.

Everyone had a great time and I'm so glad we did this!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

President in a Bag - John Adams

Last month, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag - George Washington.

Yesterday, B finally finished his second President in a Bag - John Adams.  He has had the 1st 2 items for 2 weeks but could not decide on the last 3 until yesterday.  So, here are the items that B has chosen to describe John Adams' life:

  1. The $2 bill.  John Adams was the first vice president of the United States of America, making him the 2nd man in charge.  He was our 2nd president.  He is pictured on the back of the $2 bill in the depiction of John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence".
  2. The peace symbol.  Although it cost him reelection, John Adams refused to go to war with France during his presidency, instead choosing peace.  He decided to do what was right instead of what was popular.  Something we discussed that was lacking in a lot of current politicians.
  3. A pen.  The colonists were quite angry about the taxes that the English king assessed upon them. Instead of participating in the violent protests, John Adams chose to write articles in the newspapers.
  4. A library card.  The Library of Congress was established under John Adams' presidency.
  5. A garden trowel.  After his presidency, John Adams retired to farming, fulfilling his desire to follow in his father's footsteps.
Read about our other Presidents in a Bag: