{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash Vol.4

I was a bum last week and didn’t post!  Lots of craziness here (as though that is ever news;-)

Check out the link-up for more good times!

~UN~

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It was really funny, whatever it was…

Made it through yet another kid’s birthday party.  Junior had a great time but these fêtes are so stressful for me to plan and execute.  It has been years since I have thrown birthday parties for my kids so I felt guilty and decided to allow all three of the older ones to have parties to celebrate this year.  (The youngest just turned one and I figured she won’t need/remember a big birthday party so we just did a family thing.)  Anyhow, I have decided on a rule regarding bday parties:  We’ll do them for age 3, 6, and 9 and possibly 13 and 16 if they are so inclined, but that is it.  Unfortunately, my three oldest are each three years apart so most of those milestone bdays will occur all in the same birthday season!  Oh well, it seems worth it simply to not have big birthday bashes every.single. year.

~DEUX~

I am worried I am heading toward shoulder surgery.  I think it is because I am getting old with a little bit of “children have wrecked my body” added in.  When Spike was born, I had a wrist thing going on for over a year.  It was the stinkin’ carseat-lugging.  It finally got better when I wore a wrist brace for most of my waking moments.  But now my shoulder has been out of whack for 9+ months.  I have tried stretching it, icing it, heat-padding it, over-medicating on Advil to no avail.  It has gotten so bad the pain keeps me up most of the night.  (And let me tell you, my 15-month-old finally started sleeping through the night and nothing breaks your bubble of “Yay! Finally a whole-night’s rest!” than being up in pain with “minivan shoulder”.)  Next stop is the chiropractor to see if I can figure this out without resorting to something more invasive.

~TROIS~

Which leads me to….yay I get to bring my kids to the chiropractor appointment on Friday morning.  Hubby usually gets Fridays off, but just after I made the appointment (that has taken me months to get around to making) he informed me he has to go in for a special work meeting this Friday all day.  Because I am really and truly a glutton for punishment, I decided to keep the appointment (hey, my shoulder really hurts), and haul the youngest three with me.  All I have to say is thank goodness for tablets.   I momentarily thought about bringing them to my bi-annual hair cut & color appointment Thursday but my good friend luckily intervened and agreed to watch the kids for me.

~QUATRE~

SAHMs need decent childcare options.  I have the toughest time with this.  I don’t need full-time child-minding, just the occasional couple of hours here and there so I can go to doctors’ appointments, or volunteer, or just have a coffee by myself so I don’t go crazy.  I have no family in the area. (and even if I did it is unlikely they would be able/willing to help in this capacity) Our town does not have good (any?) options for drop-in childcare. I have only one close friend who has not gone back to work (my other good friends are leaving SAHM-ing in droves!) and I hate to impose myself constantly on her.  Hubby does get Fridays off, but what happens when the doctor I need to see doesn’t have office hours on Fridays?  Or Hubby is resistant to “babysitting” the younger ones so I can volunteer once in a while at the older children’s school?  What do I do with them when I give blood, or want to go into a china shop?  The answer is, I either take them along (sorry dental hygienist for the mess my toddler made of your laughing gas canisters) or simply stop volunteering, stop running errands anywhere there are breakable items (so sorry Hobby Lobby! Your displays are so beautiful that my kids need to “see” them with their hands), and put my health needs last (I would love love love to be able to see a therapist at least once a month or so).  Just very frustrated.  I might just have to bite the bullet and put an ad in on Care.com.

~CINQ~

Trying to teach my kids about money.  This is challenging.  The kindergartner is still trying to wrap her head around the fact that 6 cents is different from 6 dollars.  The boys seem to be compulsive spenders, even when I explain to them the value of saving your money for something really special and dividing your funds into Save/Spend/Donate.  I can’t get any of them to voluntarily donate any of their own money.  My money, sure, but with their own cash, definitely not!  I worry I am raising children far too interested in our society’s idea of consumerism.  Parenting is tough.

~SIX~

I did art with Spike and Evvie this week!  Go me!  Normally the thought of doing crafts or art projects with my kids makes me want to claw my eyes out (the mess, the chaos, the children eating non-toxic finger paint!) but I took a deep breath and held it together long enough to let them make a total of 5 masterpieces.

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Look Mom! It’s you after a glass of wine!

 

~SEPT~

Apparently, I have a diabolical plan:  I only make really delectable desserts when I am serving positively disgusting food for dinner.  This is the honest truth.  They found me out.  It’s a vast parental conspiracy.  (Cue evil laugh)  So if you come to our house for dinner and you smell those delicious brownies…beware!  That means we are having liver, potatoes (don’t ask me – my Idaho-born children think potatoes are anathema), and something green for dinner.  No dessert unless you clean your plate.  Mean mom strikes again!

Have a delightful week!

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Today’s My Mom-iversary

Today, nine years ago, I became a mom.  I still remember how tiny that little guy was and how completely overwhelmed with love I was for him the very first time I held him.  Jbaby

Nine.  Looking back on almost a decade.  Looking ahead, less than a decade to go before he graduates, leaves home , and starts his own life.  Parenthood goes WAAAAAY too fast.

I struggled when Junior was younger.  He was an exceptionally happy, easy-going baby but morphed into a manic, destructive, and curious toddler.  I literally could not leave him alone for a second.  Either he was trying to crawl into our 50-gallon fish tank or he was dumping the entire contents of the refrigerator on the carpet.  He proved so challenging when I was pregnant with my second child, Bellie, that I sunk into a deep and debilitating depression that lasted much of my pregnancy.  I simply could not keep up with him.

He also possesses an extremely sensitive and intense personality.  He is also somewhat of an empath, like me (he is very affected by others’ emotions and stress-levels).  When we were going through a very uncertain time a few years ago (Hubby was laid off, we sold our house and were living in a series of rentals while we attempted to make a huge move back to the Midwest), Junior was a mess emotionally.  He had to switch schools three times and felt very unsettled.  It was so difficult for me as a mom to watch him go through the uncertainty of daily life and I still feel so bad that he had to deal with just how stressed out Hubby and I were.

Luckily, we got through that bad period and I have to say that I am truly enjoying parenting him now.  I really love talking to him about what he is learning in school, his opinions on the new Star Wars movie, learning about his interests (Minecraft, Minecraft, and Minecraft), and listening to his crazy jokes.

The moral of this story:  Parenthood definitely has its ups and downs.  It has numerous phases.  That mellow baby might turn into a difficult toddler, who might one day actually transform into a well-adjusted human being.  As a parent, you do your best, try not to blame yourself too much for your kid’s shortcomings and truly enjoy the blessings that come with the “easy” times.  And pray for those kiddos constantly and love them like crazy.  Because this anniversary is one I am so grateful to be celebrating, for all of the trials Hubby and I have gone through as parents in the last 9 years.  It’s the anniversary that celebrates my vocation of motherhood, without which I would not be half the person I am today.  Happy birthday, Junior!

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Stop Mom, you’re embarrassing me!

 

Mama said there’d be days like this

StateLibQld 2 164099 Derailed goods train at Eudlo, 1914

photo: Wikimedia Commons

There’s something to be said about days when you wake up to kids fighting, a baby screaming, juice spilled on the floor, a splitting headache and a husband who is MIA. (What?  He went to church by himself to commune with God sans children…I pretty much want to be him right now).  And that word is  POOPY.

As in poopy diapers that need changing, seemingly constantly.  A teething little one who won’t stop crying in a decibal that is about five degrees short of making my ears bleed.  A house that looks like a hurricane visited – and this only five minutes after I completely cleaned and tidied yesterday.  A toddler crying inconsolably because his big brother won’t let him play with his Hex Bugs and Santa was mean and didn’t “bring me my own Hex Bugs!!!!” Plus a shoulder that has been in moderate-to-severe pain ever since I wrenched it carrying a 357-lb infant carseat around following the birth of my youngest.

Needless to say, not shaping up to be a stellar day.

Can this day be saved?

Generally, at this point, I start snowballing down the spiral of “woe is me” and “my life sucks” and “maybe I should just crawl back in bed with a bowl of ice cream”.  It is really tempting.  Particularly when my chosen vocation is vastly thankless, undignified, and fraught with tedium and noise.  What is the point of cleaning the house if it is just going to fall into disarray again?  What use, wiping that bottom, when it will need wiping again in an hour? (my kids like prunes)  Why should I even attempt to take a shower if two three four of my children bang on the door and cry the entire time because I have left them bereft for the five minutes I can hasily loofah myself?

The truth is, (as Hubby so  kindly reminded me) no job, no vocation, is without its repetition, occasionally monotony, and frustrations.  The janitor at Walmart is never “done” with his job.  He cleans the restrooms, and a few hours later, he needs to clean the restrooms again.  The teacher at my children’s school faces challenges during the day, and her job is definitely never complete.  That ER doctor, I’m sure, in between rushing around saving lives, needs to fill out boring paperwork that is probably no fun and not very rewarding.

It’s helpful to know that everyone has days like this.  The difference between the “woe is me” Rebecca and the “I can keep going” Rebecca is attitude.  Or, in the very least (if I aI cannot summon positive thoughts) to FAKE IT TIL I MAKE IT.  This little mantra has helped me out on more bad days than I can count.

I pretend I am in a positive mindset and eventually I really do feel more positive.  It’s kind-of like that dumb(I thought) tip I read in a teen magazine years ago.  Even if you are not happy, smile – and that will trick your brain into thinking that you are.  The weird thing is, there is some truth to it.

My other “Get out of a bad mood quick” hacks are:

1.) Stop what I am doing and sit down with a good book.  It seems kinda counterintuitive, but when  I am frustrated with the futility of getting housework done with little tornadoes underfoot, taking a book break can give my mind a rest and energize me to get more work done afterwards.

2) Put on my ear-buds and turn up some tunes. This is especially effective to tune out the fighting, crying, and demands from the kiddos.  Make sure you perfect your “What?  I can’t hear you!?” face.

3) Watch a 22-minute show on Netflix that inspires.  My go-to show right now is Fixer Upper.  I don’t know why, but I find Chip & JoAnna Gaines really upbeat, and I get super-motivated to beautiful my house afterwards.

4) Tackle a project that I can finish.  I never realized how effective this one was, until I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home.  She says that motivation leads to more motivation and the quickest way to get motivated about getting things done is to complete something. I think so many times in our lives, we moms get used to being interrupted.  Ergo, finishing projects, activities, movies, chores, etc is often a rarity.  I am actually surprised sometimes I ever finish cooking dinner.  But coming up with something that I can tackle and finish (the finishing is the important part) in the space of a certain amount of time is inspiring and encourages me to keep going, or at least move forward with a more productive mindset.  I have 5 minutes while the kids are distracted with something shiny!  I can match socks from the lost sock bucket.  30 minutes left of naptime?  I can do a marathon tidy of the downstairs living room while plying the older kids with candy to stay out until I am done.

5) Sometimes, the one that is the most effective is just to stop whatever I am doing, or attempting to do and SIT DOWN WITH MY KIDS. I often feel like my days are only as valuable as the number of things I can check off my “To Do” list.  I view my kids as distractions, interruptions, inconveniences to my great master goal of “Getting Things Done”.  Uh, hello?  They are the reason I have to get things done, not the distraction from it!  It can be easy to forget when you are tired, or overwhelmed, or sick of listening to kids yell at one another.  (I adore this article from Danielle Bean, which perfectly highlights the struggle and response I strive to have.) But often, I have found that my kids can sense when I am trying to put my mental and physical energy elsewhere and actually act out to try and get some of that energy back to them.  And it can be more effective in the long run to take some time out to sit down with them and play, or talk, or just be present for a few minutes instead of worrying about the laundry and the dishes and dinner and the bills and the ants that have invaded Junior’s room because he squirreled away crackers under his bed.  Sometimes a cuddle is all that is needed to rejuvenate a day gone sour for Momma and cubs.

I am a firm believer in redemption.  Redemption for human beings (no man is beyond it) and redemption for days (no day is beyond it).  This train got derailed pretty early this morning but it is not too late to drag it back onto the tracks and turn it around.  But I might go back to the cafe car and grab a bowl of ice cream just in case. ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly Mishmash: Tax Day Edition

Happy Tax Day!  Head on over to Kelly’s for more fun.

~one~

Yes, we filed our taxes on time.  Pfew!

~two~

We usually get a refund from federal, but almost always have to pay into state.

~three~

I wrote the check out incorrectly for the taxes we owed the state.  Little tidbit: if you accidentally do not match the numeric amount to the long-written-out amount, the bank will cash the check for the long-written-out amount.  I am glad I caught it before taxes were due – I sent in the hundred extra dollars I had “forgotten” because I wrote the check out incorrectly!  (Six hundred and 97/100 dollars is not the same as $697.00)

~four~

Being an adult during tax season is fun. Particularly when you get to spend your tax return on…..wait for it….paying off debt.  Super fun.

~five~

I was really excited we could add baby Evvie as an exemption this year.

~six~

I would give to charity regardless of whether it can be counted toward exemptions.  The exemptions are nice, but mainly it just feels good.

~seven~

Tax goal going forward: Set up and contribute to a Roth IRA.  They have great tax benefits and padding the retirement nest is never a bad idea.

Wishing you all a blessed and prosperous April the Fifteenth!  Enjoy!

Potatoes of Wisdom: Sharing my infinite knowledge with you

Potatoes of Wisdom

Welcome to my newest venture on my blog in which I attempt to share my vast accumulation of knowledge from my 29+ years of life on this great planet.  Join me as I let you in to my world of housewifery tips, parenting secrets, and general life advice.  I am oh-so-qualified and I do hope you can learn much from my insights. (She says tongue-in-cheek:-)

First up:

Today’s lesson, children, is one that is dear to my heart.  As a pet-owner and a purchaser of candy, I felt the desire, no, the need, to share this latest pearl potato  with you.  Repeat after me:

Even if it is covered in sugar, it is never a good idea to eat dog poo.

Strangely enough, this is not an obvious, naturally-occurring thought in my kids’ minds.  It may have never crossed your children’s minds, either.  So practice this mantra with your family and you can thank me later!

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash, Vol. 3

Linking up with Kelly again!  Head over there for more greatness…

→one←

I’ve been a bum this week (as far as writing goes…)!  I have like half a million topics spinning around in my brain to write about but every time I sit down to write I am thwarted in my attempts because the kids descend upon my office like the Great Horde.  So, trying to take a deep breath and acknowledge that the kiddos are a higher priority than my humble attempts at writing right now, but hoping I can eventually make more of a use of naptime/Paw Patrol/Daddy in the future to get some kind of better time and writing management going on.

→two←

Teething. Is. The. Pits.  Totally forgot about molars.  And then they arrive, resplendent with hours upon hours of crying and mommy-clinging and snotty noses.  I will be very very thankful when they finally erupt and I can forge ahead with a lower decibel of noise in the house.

→three←

That same poor little lady who is teething is also finally walking!  Yay!  My kids have always been lazy about taking their first steps but this one has been the slowest by far.  She will be 15 months next week and just now decided she was ready to actually take the biped plunge.  Hubby apparently walked at 9 months, and is Just Appalled that all of his children took after their mother and did not walk until after a year.  I say it is just that they wanted to be absolutely sure they felt up to the task before walking.  None of this infant, falling-down and wobbling stuff for them.  No, they wanted to be Confident when taking their first steps!  Or they were just lazy.  Either way we are proud of Baby “Evvie”.

→four←

Oh my goodness.  When Bellie got this ant habitat for her birthday, I had no idea that it would provide so many hours of fascination for my kiddos.  These ants are way fun to watch.  This picture was taken the day after we dumped the ants in their habitat, but now, almost a week in, they have made several loopy tunnels and the first thing my kids do when they wake up is check on the ants.  I, too, am strangely intrigued by this tiny ant colony.  It is relaxing to just watch those little ants tunneling away.  Let me tell you, I think perhaps the adult coloring book trend could be followed by adult scientific ant colony kits?  Other than the fact I am worried that one of the children might think it fun to take the lid off and free the ants from communism (Spike, I’m looking at you!), I think the meditation-inducing observation could be a really good thing for blood pressure.

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Ants. They are the coolest thing evah.

→five←

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This is a pic of nylon baling twine.  It is in the back of Hubby’s pickup, prepared to go to the dump.  This is only the tippy-tip-top of the iceberg of the amount of this stuff buried underneath our yard.  Apparently the Ranch is on top of an old pasture/farm yard where the cows/horse/alpacas were fed an abundance of baled hay, and the remaining twine was just left there and then, presumably, covered up with dirt?  Tilled in?  I don’t know…I just want to spread the word, folks, that THIS STUFF IS NOT BIODEGRADABLE.  Every time we dig in our yard, we pull up heaps of this garbage.  When we were moving trees last week, the tree spade dug in a particular area and brought up a mound of twine.  Not dirt!  Ugh.  I never would have thought we were on a Superfund site for baling twine!

→six←

Spike is extremely interested in astronomy.  I blame it on PBS’s new kids’ show Ready Jet Go!.  He is waaaaaaay interested in planets (and demi-planets), especially.  We got a book from the library about Pluto and lately, he is talking about wanting a telescope so he can see Pluto.  I learned (courtesy of this children’s science book) that Pluto is so far away even the strongest telescopes on earth can’t get decent images of it, but just last year, a special satellite called New Horizons sent back really really clear photos of Pluto.  Poor Pluto, the redheaded stepchild of the planets.  Maybe someday they will let him back into the planet club.

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“Pluto? Where are you, boy?” Spike with his “telescopes”

→seven←

I was inspired last year by Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home and this year I’ve been attempting to do my own “Happiness Project” by focusing on certain areas monthly.  January was organization and time-management, February – relationships, March – money and financial health, and April is “Physical Health and Stress Management”.  I guess I anticipated that I would be working out and doing yoga and meditating every day.  But…so far…it has been stretching in the morning and attempting to drink more water. Yeah.  That is about all I can fit in right now.  I would love to be training for a marathon or really working on toning my flab, but honestly, the thought of exercise doesn’t even cross my mind during the day except when I fall, exhausted into bed and then think, “dang!  I was going to walk on the treadmill today.”  It is not for lack of motivation.  I just forget!  But then I think, I am probably burning calories by running around after my family all day so that should count, right?  I will keep you posted on my Happiness journey.

Have a blessed week!!

{7QuickTakes}Weekly Mishmash Vol.2

So excited to link up to Kelly’s 7 Quick Takes for the first time!

ONE

Blessed to have celebrated an awesome Easter with family and friends.

TWO

My favorite Easter brunch cocktail: Mimosas, need I say more?

THREE

We’ve been moving trees at The Ranch.  Hubby was lucky enough to find a retired gentleman with a tree mover machine (known alternately as a “tree spade”) who is charging us a very affordable rate for his services.  We own over 50 trees, which we discovered (after we bought our property last year) are not quite exactly on our property. More on this annoying situation later, but in the meantime, we are moving all 50 of them to bring them within our boundaries and also spread them out a little more across our whole yard.

FOUR

My life is constantly going at a crazy jet-speed pace and I can barely keep up with my kids, let alone my pets (elderly wiener dog Winston and mouser cat extraordinaire Orca), but when spring comes and those little baby animals are everywhere I really want to get some chickens.  And goats.  And possibly a milk cow.  Sigh.  I have completely unrealistic fantasies that I am a farmer.  Hubby reminds me that it is all well and fun when the weather is nice, but I need to remember that cows still need to be milked in the subzero temperatures of winter mornings.  Eh, not so romantic sounding now.

FIVE

I am starting to keep a Word document on my computer entitled, “Things as a Parent I Never Thought I would Say”.  The most recent contribution is courtesy of my 3-year-old son, “Spike”.  (Actually, most of the contributions there are courtesy of Spike).  He was running around the house the other day, refusing to get dressed.  He wanted to play with the dress-up clothes and wouldn’t listen to me.  “I just want to be a doctor!” says the 3-year-old.  “You want to be a doctor?  Well, you have to put your on pants first, “I replied.  This led me to wonder if my grandmother had ever said this to my dad (who was a doctor) when he was a lad.

SIX

Starting to tentatively plan EUROPE VACATION 2017…Fingers crossed that this actually happens!  It will have been 13 years since my last journey to that continent and I have been eagerly waiting for another opportunity to go.  So far, just trying to narrow down the locations.  Probably will only have about two weeks to travel, and there is so much to see.  I am also slightly nervous about the current political/social climate over there, terrorist and otherwise, so we shall have to watch that of course.

SEVEN

Completely loving Lauren Daigle’s new album How Can It Be.  I never used to listen to Christian music.  I irreverently always called it “Jesus music” and made fun of it, but in the last couple of years I started listening to SOS radio (mainly because…no commercials.  But then, I also appreciate that I can listen to it in the minivan with the kids and they are not asking me about questionable lyrics) and realized, Hey, Christian music is actually good.  But Lauren’s song “Trust in You” has kind-of become my anthem for 2016.