Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Parental Baggage

It's nice to have a blog.  It's like a confessional for protestant hack writers.

In talking to other parents, I've come to realize that we all approach parenting with baggage. If your childhood was perfect, maybe you don't.  But the rest of us were raised by humans who didn't get quite everything right. 
  • In households where parents didn't argue, children tell themselves that they will hash things out with their future spouse so that their future children will know how to resolve conflict.
  • In households where there were too many children and not enough money, children tell themselves that they won't have a family until all of the education funds are set aside and there is a substanial "emergency" fund.  No child of theirs will miss out on one sports activity or summer camp for lack of funds.
  • In households where a child was inadequately homeschooled, homeschool isn't an option.
  • In households where children had to share a bedroom, bunk beds (and more than 2 children) are strictly forbidden.

I've been trying not to be critical (just observant) of others' parenting convictions even if I want to say, "Oh yeah, well what does the Bible say about that?"  Maybe as I listen to others, I will see my own parental baggage and try to moderate it - with God's help.  

So I confess.... The first hang-up that comes to mind is my No Sugar Rule.  You see, I didn't learn the best eating habits from my family so I want to give my children a good start... that doesn't include an addiction to sugar.   I know that I could go to the extreme and forbid birthday cake and popsicles in the summer, but I don't want my children to leave home and binge on M&Ms and Mt Dew because they never learned moderation.  I also don't want them to tell my future grandchildren, "Eat all the Cocoa Puffs* you can stand!  Would you like some more chocolate milk?" 

Have you discovered your hang-ups? 

*For the record, I do buy sugar cereals (on sale with a coupon) and we eat it for an occasional treat.


Wednesday Blues

How do single parents or single-because-your-spouse-travels-for-work parents do it?  My husband recently started a job with a gentleman because his business was too busy for just him.  Well, it seems it may be too busy for just him AND my husband.

He's been working very long hours and I have been the primary parental unit for over 3 weeks now.  And there's no end in sight.  Being the only one who maintains the house, cooks the meals, diapers the bottoms, corrects the behavior, weeds the garden, buys the groceries, taxis the ballerina, etc... is plain exhausting.  I feel as though all of my parenting resolve is out the door and has been replaced with a "whatever makes you stop screaming" attitude.  That's bad, right?

While I know their little characters are important, I'm really hoping these last couple of weeks will fade from memory and that they will not become sluggards who consume only processed food and neglect personal hygiene.

I love them.  And they make me tired.  And I think bedtime is at 5:30 because they all skipped naps today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Unrealistic Expectations

I have found that when I have unrealistic expectations, I get disproportionally disappointed.  I primarily speak the love language of gifts.  This doesn't mean that I require expensive baubles or overpriced flowers.  On the contrary, it means that gifts I give are *hopefully* thoughtful.  And I'd like to think that those closest to me know that I like to receive tokens of their thoughtfulness. 

like when my friend gave me "Happy Due Date" Flowers when baby #4 was staying put and another friend who sent a card with kind words and coupons I needed. 

or like when my husband brought me that cinnamon muffin from The Kettle in Enumclaw when I thought he was just going to renew our license plates.  

or like when Seth (age 4 1/2) brings me dandelions from the yard.

or when Korynne (age 3 1/2) offers to wipe off the table.

These are not extravagant gestures, but they indicate to me that I am special or important or at least thought of by people that I care about. 

So when Hallmark holidays (like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day) roll around, it's nigh impossible for me to put my expectations asunder.  I have them.  I try so hard not to.  I would love for my husband to make breakfast and bring it to me in bed with a flower and something shiny in a blue box.

But I'm not a movie star and my life is not on the big screen.  My life is pretty average.  Sure, we have a lot of small children and that sort of makes us stand out at the grocery store, but otherwise I am not extraordinary... to you or the general public.  I would however, like to be occasionally regarded by my family and those closest to me.  I want them to know me well enough to know that I like flowers for my garden, I like good chocolate, and I have all the kitchen gadgets I need (and any more I need I'll get at Fred Meyer's bogo sale this week).  I want them to know that a quiet afternoon in my own home is a gift, someone else doing the dishes does not go unnoticed, and that the floor does need to be vacuumed... again. 

So what am I waxing philosophically about?  Well, our culture sets up unrealistic expectations.  Seriously... did anyone get breakfast in bed and a little blue box on Mother's Day... or any other day for that matter?  Why do I, as a stay at home Mom, expect my husband, the sole income for our family, to drop a hunk of change on a blue box?  Why do I want him to be distracted from his God-given responsibility of taking care of his family?  After all, he's given me shelter, money to buy groceries, and a vehicle to get around in.  I wanted to be a Mom and he's given me 4 beautiful children and the means to clothe them. 

And don't for one second think that I don't feel loved and appreciated... 

When he comes home exhausted from working 60+ hours with knuckles bloodied from the day's tasks AND kisses me like he kissed me that first time almost 9 years ago AND converses with me over a meal AND plays with our children AND fertilizes the grass, I feel loved and appreciated.  I feel loved and appreciated 99.998% of the time (if only the laundry was always in the hamper). 

Is it possible that requiring men to be 
good gift givers 
ballroom dancers
diaper changers
Sunday morning chefs
emasculates them?

Going one step further, will I teach my sons that they are not good husbands unless they buy into the culture's idea of consumerism and permit their wives to be lazy?  I think not.

Disclaimer:  If you are a Father and did not show some form of appreciation to the Mother of your child(ren) on Mother's Day (which was yesterday, May 8, 2011), go directly to the store to buy her favorite (chocolate, flowers, coffee, whatever) and give it to your wife as a peace offering.  Tell her that you appreciate her everyday, not just on Mother's Day.  That should help. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lenten Longings

I grew up in non-liturgical churches.  My dad introduced me to the Episcopal Church when I was in high school and I really liked the structure and reverence of the worship service.  So when I got to college and had a hard time finding a church that I enjoyed, I went to another Episcopal Church.  I found great comfort in the formality.

While checking Facebook, I see that many of my friends are observing Lent and fasting from something as a way to remember the sacrifice that Christ made for us.  I've only observed Lent once in my 32 years and that was while I was in the Peace Corps.  I decided not to drink alcohol for 40 days because they notoriously "made" me drink too much.  When they asked why, I told them it wasn't unlike Ramadan.  Does anyone else see the irony of me telling Muslims that I wasn't going to drink?  Anyway, the churches I grew up in  would say that the observence of Lent is "legalistic" or "religious" and not "freedom from the law" and "relationship".

I, however, think there is probably a balance.  Just as The Faithful are not required to have "quiet time" every day, it is a devotional thing.  It's an opportunity to re-center ourselves on The One who saved us and is continuing to sanctify us making us just a little more like Him.   So what's wrong with 40 days of remembrance?  Not a thing.  For me, giving up chocolate wouldn't be anything like giving up The Throne.  For me, giving up caffeine isn't going to help me wake up enough to worship Him.  For me, giving up couponing would put my family at a disadvantage.

So I've been mulling it over... what can I give up?

But those of you who know that I used to have a nose ring, you know that I am likely to be rebellious before religious and I've decided to give something instead.  I will do an inventory every day for the next 40 to see if I've given myself to someone else.  It might be reading "Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaur" one more time than I want to or a tea party with style.  It might be asking a friend what they really need AND THEN be ready and willing to give it.  It might be a bag to the food bank or, heaven forbid, a back rub for my husband.

I suppose you could say that I'm committing to give up myself and my time and my energy.  But I usually try to phrase things in the positive when I disciple my children and I respond to that better myself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh Yes, I Did

It took a little mathematical convincing, but I did it.  I showed Kyle that by spending money, we could save money.

I didn't order a lifetime supply of widgets or vitamins.  I didn't stockpile soap and dried beans.  I ordered something I use every day... something I need... something that makes my life just a little bit better:


I tried cloth diapering, and I have a friend who had three in cloth diapers at one time.  And she is a better woman than I.  I'd love to save the planet.  I'd love to put something natural next to my baby's reproductive organs.  I'd love to join the cloth diapering cliques.  But, alas, I know my limits.

I needed to not have to worry about laundering and storing enough cloth diapers for 2 in diapers 24/7 and 1 in diapers every night (you should know me well enough by now to know that I'm WAY WAY WAY too cheap for Pull-Ups).  I needed to have the freedom to wipe, wrap, and waste. 

So I confess:
I'm cheap.
But you still want me to be charming, right?  
So I use disposables. 

Well, if you watch the couponing blogs (mine isn't one of them, but I'll make a list of my favorites someday) and you listen to the chatter, you'll know that Walgreens has 3 1/2 more days of an AMAZING sale on their generic diapers.  Are you sitting down?  They're only $2.50 for a jumbo pack (36 size 3s) that's 6.9 cents/diaper.

Can I get a witness?

To get that price, you need only 1 coupon... not 1 coupon per package.  Just 1 coupon TOTAL.  That's right, boys and girls, the easiest couponing transaction of all time for the most wonderful invention of all time (other than my cookie scoop and the Internet) DIAPERS. 

I just ordered 40 jumbo packs (12 size 4s and 28 size 3s).  They won't be here until Monday so I need to go get a raincheck so I can get that price after the sale is over.

If you're interested in this deal, call your store to see if they will order them for you or just go buy what they have on the shelf.  My babies' bottoms are not sensitive and have always done just fine in whatever diaper we use.  So far, they hold the wet and the sticky messes.  And, they've got a monkey on the front... it's cute.  

You'll need a Walgreen's Infant Care Coupon book.  I found mine in the pharmacy.  In this coupon book, there is a $2/1 coupon.  When they scan this coupon, it takes $2 off of every package you buy.  The packages are $8.99 and they are buy one get one free.  So $8.99 + Free - $2 first package - $2 second package = $4.99 or $2.50/package!

How many jumbo packs do YOU need for a six month supply!?!?! Who else is going to cut their diaper budget in half!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Good with the Bad

Yes, I am really good at saving money.  It's easy to do when you don't have any (or pretend that you don't).  I think of every penny as a resource I'm suppose to steward.  Now that I know I can get free dishwashing soap, I will (hopefully) never pay for it again.  That, to me, is being good steward: doing my best to make every penny go as far as it can.

One of these days, time will be more valuable than money.  Maybe, I'll have streamlined the couponing process so I can save money and not spend hours doing it. 

But, even when I plan my shopping trips, check multiple blogs, and clip every coupon, things don't always go as they are meant to.  I choose to take the good with the bad.

Just this week, I have had several such occasions!

Bad:  Target had a deal on Tostitos.  Buy 2 for $2.50 and get a salsa free.  Then, $.55 coupons came out in Sunday's paper AND Target had a printable coupon for a $1 off too.  In theory, I could get 2 chips and 1 salsa for $2.35 (2.50 x 2 - .55 x 2 - 2.50 - 2.50 - .55 - 1... confusing, I know).   Unfortunately, the Target $1 printable didn't work... suddenly it wasn't a great deal.  Bummer.  I didn't (and won't) take it back because it's a hassle and it was my mistake.  And since they accidentally didn't ring up a package of cheese I bought last week, I figure it makes us even.  Yes, I did ask them if they wanted me to pay for the cheese and they said "no". 

Good:  I found $1/1 coupons for Tostitos today at Albertson's and they're on sale at Safeway on Sunday.  I'll be able to get 3 bags for 44 cents each.  Not too shabby.

Bad:  I was at Safeway today and I bought their 2 lbs of Lucerne cheese for $3.99.  I thought all varieties $3.99.  I thought it was labeled that way.  It wasn't until I checked my receipt in the parking lot after I buckled the kids in that I realized that I paid $6.99... why would I do that?  Tillamook had a coupon for 2 lbs for $4.99, but I refuse to pay more than $2/lb.  (If you knew how much cheese my munchkins ate, you'd understand.)  Also, I picked up two packages of Ranchers Reserve Cube Steak and *tried to* use my $2/1 Safeway coupon.  Alas, they were just under $2 per package.  The cashier wouldn't adjust the coupons down (they can do that, you know).  I had her take the beef off.  So now I have to think of something for dinner... ugh.

Good: I got 4 - 12 packs of soda for $7.50 and two boxes of Wheat Thins for $.98.  And, when I go back to return the cheese (heck yeah, I'm taking it back and if I find that it's mis-labeled, they'll probably give it to me for free), I'll find the super cheap meat that costs more than $2/package and get more Wheat Thins!  Take that!  (I also forgot onions.)
Bad:  Shopping 4 different stores in 1 day with 4, 3, and 2 year olds.
 Good:  The 10 month old stayed home with Daddy doing paperwork.

Bad: Being unable to find Orville Redenbocker with Red Box codes so I could get 2 boxes of popcorn, 2 movie rentals and 2 sodas for less than $2. And they were out of Palmolive Antibacterial that I could've gotten for free.

Good: Free Hawaiian bread and free Zone Bars. And free after rebate Veggie Burgers and Snapple.

Just think, most of (good:) that was because (bad:) I forgot my coupon folder at Target the other day.

I'm sure that there are Couponaires out there that never make mistakes or misunderstand the sale or forget a coupon in their pocket.  Alas, I am not she. 

And... I was able to find the cheap Johnson's Head to Toe Baby Wash and Bubbles for $1.19 that I couldn't find the other day ($2.19 - $1/1)!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In the Beginning...

Based on a couple of recommendations (mainly CH and JK), I have started my new naptime/laundry folding addiction: The Duggars.

It's available on Netflix Watch Instantly and I watched the first season this week.  Of course, "watch" is a loose term since I have it on as I do something else like clip coupons or sort matchbox cars. 

I'm enjoying seeing how a household with 17 children (she's pregnant with #18 in the first season) can run so smoothly.  It's like a fast forward in my life... but we don't plan to have 2 dozen kids, so it's more like our life 15 years from now minus a baseball team and a basketball squad.  Okay, it's nothing like my life at all, but it's entertaining.

What I want is a flashback to what life was like when she had 5 or 6 little ones and no teenagers.  You know, "Previously in Arkansas..."  or "In the beginning there was chaos..." Life with cooks, maids, and a laundry service must be nice.  But how did Ma Duggar survive all the years leading up to that and still have a smile on her face?

Maybe it's in the following seasons... I'll let you know.  

Maybe You Noticed

It might seem obvious to everyone else, but I just made the connection:

There is a direct correlation between the amount of sleep I get and how much I blog.

When I sleep, I blog.  When I go to bed at 11, Jenna wakes up at 2, Joel wakes up at 5, and Seth and Korynne wake up at 7, I'm not getting sufficient rest; therefore, I do not have the strength to blog.

When Jenna and/or Joel stop teething and start sleeping, I might figure out a way to do something other than hold on to my coffee cup for dear life and stare into space.  Heck, I might even do the dishes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Great Debate

I know you were all waiting with baited breath to find out whether or not I ate the sad M&Ms at the bottom of my purse.  I didn't.  I forgot about them and stopped using that purse.  When I found them later, I didn't have time to pick off the lint so I threw them away.  Sad.  Very sad indeed.

Speaking of SAD (that was a very bad segue, but it worked, right?), I am fairly confident that after 5 years of pregnancy and/or nursing, my body has been completely depleted of Vitamin D.  This means that the distinct lack of sunshine in the Pacific Northwest actually bothers me.  It makes me very blah.  I have no energy.  I feel like I should eat or sleep, but I don't need either.

Two weeks ago, it was brilliantly sunny and I blogged 4 times in a week and still got all my chores done and cooked dinner almost every night.  Last week, I was not as productive and now it has been 12 or so days without the sun that so graciously gives life and energy.  Wednesday, there's a chance, but that's 48 hours from now. 

It makes me want to curse the day that I suggested that we move to Washington. I'll never forget the day... he, with wile and wisdom, brought me from Texas to Washington at the end of July and proposed on a ferry coming into downtown Seattle at night.  He knew I'd be hooked.  It's all his fault.  Had he brought me in January or February, I'd have still said "yes", but I would have required solar lightbox before saying "I do."

The great debate is not whether or not to move back to Texas (once you move across two mountain ranges, there's no going back).  Rather it is, to or not to go to the store to get Vitamin D supplements.  They're on sale, and I have a coupon, and there's a rebate.  They might actually pay me to take my vitamins.   Besides, it may not even help.  " study did not show a link between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms in elderly Chinese."  Wikipedia actually says that.  HA!  Since I am neither elderly nor Chinese, I should give it a shot.  

BUT... to go to the store, I have to:  make my list and gather my coupons, load up all 4 chilluns by myself and get them into the car, drive 15 minutes to the nearest Rite Aid, unload the chilluns, do my shopping with 2 in the cart and 2 carrying baskets following me through the store, check out with my coupons, re-load the chilluns into the car, return 15 minutes home, unload the chilluns, herd them into the house, and make dinner while they all scream "I'm hungry" in various stages of verbal development.  Last week, I was too SAD to put new batteries in my keyboard (and I'm glad since the spacebar is working again) what makes anyone think that I would be up for the aforementioned task!?!?!  I'd much rather sit on my couch and blog as my almost 2 year old disassembles my coupon binder and the 9 month old cries and the 3 and 4 year olds color without supervision. 

To make matters more "fun", the other parental unit won't be home until late.  A trip to the store makes bedtime much more bearable.  What to do!?!?!

*deep sigh* 


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm so cheap...

So, a few monthsago, I told you that wewereseriously considering movingJoel into thelaundry room and me and my computer upstairsto our loft space.  Well, planschanged.  We got our newTV afterThanksgiving andnow, my computerisin thelivingroom andmy monitor is the 40"ofblood, sweat, andtears hanging onmy wall.

I'm usingmy wirelesskeyboard as I sit comfortably onthe couch.  But asyou can tell, my spacebar isn't working so well.  It's becausethe batteries arerunning low. I could take them out and replace them, but I'm so darn cheap, I don't wantto.  I bought batteries onsaleatRiteAidbefore Christmas, but I amdisinclined to throwaway something that obviously works part of the time. 

Whatshould concern you, Dear Reader, is that I'm too cheap to put in therechargablebatteriesthat Ihave sitting unuseda mere20 feetaway.  I'dmuch rather challengeyourreadingskills.  I'd still have to throw these batteriesaway in order to use the rechargeables! Ijust can't until the batteries arereally really dead.

Much Love andHumor and Entertainment, CnC

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My New Favorite Toy

This will surprise you... it's not my new TV (though entertaining), it's not my new sweater (though flattering), it's not my new earrings (though lovely)...

It's my new 3/4 cup measure. 

Strange, I know.  I just discovered yesterday that when I double my Popover Pancake recipe, it calls for 1 1/2 cups of flour... or 2 - 3/4 cup.  Just now, I discovered that my go-to pizza dough recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of flour... or 3 - 3/4 cup.  I'm so grateful.  I only have to dirty one cup measure now.  Isn't that AMAZING!?!?!

Simple pleasures, I suppose. 

A New Year, A New Detergent

A few months ago, I posted about my homemade laundry detergent.  Well, my friend, Hollis, posted a comment about a dry version. 

A month or two ago., I made that version... and I'm never looking back. 

When I researched recipes for detergent, I saw dry versions everywhere.  I opted to make liquid because that's what I'd been using for a long time.  But why?  Do you do this?  Do you question why you do things?  Or how they're done? 

Personally, I started using liquid laundry detergent because when we bought our house in April 2007, the washer and dryer left behind were horrible.  They didn't dissolve the powdered detergent.  I was sufficiently grossed out by finding clumps of detergent among my "clean" clothes so I bought liquid detergent and pretended that my clothes were getting clean. 

When we remodeled our kitchen in 2008, we got a set of Front Loaders (on Black Friday with 0% financing for 12 months).  I heart my washer and dryer... I really do.  It's probably wrong to love appliances as much as I do, but I also love my on-demand hot water heater and my heated tile floors.  Being the wife of a contractor has disadvantages (like an unpainted exterior), but there are some strong advantages too (bells and whistles in the virtually brand new interior of my 100 year old home). 

Anyway, I kept using liquid detergent because that's what I had and I had to buy High Efficiency Detergent.  I can't remember if I even looked into powdered HE detergent.  But a while ago (I lose track of time), I needed more detergent and had no inclination to make the liquid stuff as it is a little labor intensive.  I gave Hollis' friend's powdered version a shot.

Love.  True love.

It's easier to make... less mess, less time.  It works.  My clothes are clean.  It takes up less space than my 2 gallon container.

So goodbye, liquid laundry detergent.  Hello ease.  Hello clean. 

Recipe:  1 bar Fels Naptha, 1 c Washing Soda, 1/2 c Borax

Directions:  Shred Fels Naptha with the grater part of your food processor.  Then, use the blade to turn the Fels from shreds to a fine-ish powder.  Add one cup of Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of Borax.  Mix it up.  Use 1 tablespoon per load.  The end. 

(I use an old sour cream container and an old formula scoop.)

You're welcome.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Curse

I'm certain that Moses left out one important part of the curse as a result of the first sin.  The curse also included isolation of Stay at Home Moms. 

If you are privileged enough to get all of them down for naps concurrently, you so love the silence that calling a few friends to catch up on holiday happenings and new year expectations is not going to happen.  If you wait until the children rise, they will play quietly with one another until the last number is dialed at which time the screaming will commence.  It is clear, to me, that this is not a result of anything I have done, rather it is Eve's consequence passed on from generation to generation. 

Thank you, Mother of Humanity for isolation.  My friends don't know how much I miss them. 

Thank you, Al Gore for the Internet.  Maybe my friends will read this and know why I don't call as often as I should.

Happy New Year Friends!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reflections on Absence

I've always liked the old adage that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."  It was true with me and Kyle when I hopped a plane to the Krygyz Republic just after we started dating.  I feared that the fervor of young love would fade but evidently, it did not.  He proposed three months after I got back.  I said, "Yes yes yes yes."

So, in celebration of our 7th anniversary, we went away without our four children... for four days and three nights.  Our oldest is 4 1/2.  It's the first time since his arrival that we have been alone for more than 24 hours.  While it's nice to have a day here and there, nothing really refreshes the mind and the body quite like not having to do laundry or change a diaper.  Heck, I didn't even cook or do dishes... my amazing husband did that too.

When we first started planning this time away, I thought to myself, "Finally, I'll get to breathe."  But as the time drew nearer, I realized that it might be the bittersweet end of an era. 

Five years and three months ago, I found out that I was pregnant with Seth.  And today, I only nursed Joel once.  That means that this is the first time in 5.25 years that I have not been pregnant or breastfeeding or both.  And yes, I'm sure I'm not pregnant.  Just trust me. 

I had a fresh realization about how much I really love my role as Mommy to Seth, Korynne, Jenna, and Joel.  I really really love it.  I felt genuinely lost without them or doing something on their behalf.  I know some women lament that they don't remember who they were before children.  But I do.  I remember: I was selfish.  I didn't give or receive hugs all day.  I had too much time on my hands.  I didn't think about the long term ramifications of our government's decisions.  I didn't get skittish around water.  I didn't go on high alert in parking lots.   And I didn't need coffee within 30 seconds of waking up.

Today, I told Seth that he would be going back to school on Monday.  Since it's only Saturday, he got a little prematurely excited.  I got a little sad.  I'm going to miss seeing him all day every day.

Tonight, we gave the kids a bath.  Korynne likes to be wrapped in her towel and carried like a baby.  I'm not sure why.  But I do it gladly after every bath because someday she'll be too big to carry and I won't be helping her rinse her hair.

This morning, Jenna acquired 8 new words.  I can't remember what all they are, but she's catching up with her siblings' vocabulary FAST.  She's not a baby anymore.

Right now, Joel is trying to pull up on everything, eating peas with the best of them, and getting too big for his infant carrier.  Where did the time go?

Needless to say, I'm not looking for a career change anytime soon even though my coffee consumption (and thickness) has increased exponentially with each child.  The way I figure, they're only in my care for less than 20 years.  If I live to be 80, that's only 1/4 of my life.  I can't think of a better way to spend my life.