This and That

Today I bought the year’s supply of hot dogs and got them into the freezer.  In May for at least the past few years, Gordon Food Supply has had packs of Ball Park Beef franks for 12.99.  The regular size hot dogs have 40 in a pack, and they are longer than those in the small 8 packs in the grocery store which make them essentially bun length.  I plan on having hot dogs about once a month, plus a few extra portions for summer grilling.  This time I also made up a baggie with sets of two dogs wrapped in wax paper to allow my son (the biggest hot dog lover of the house) to occasionally treat himself to an extra serving.  Since we have an upright freezer in the basement, we have the space to take advantage of the special pricing and get the best value.

Feeding a family is smoother and more economical when you take a few minutes to plan ahead.  Through the years I’ve also learned to buy family packs of meat then trim and portion out all of the meat before freezing.  This confines the mess and hassle and on nights when I’ve not planned as carefully as I ought the preparation makes it easier to get dinner around without as much scrambling.  When the kids were little and the freezer less full, I would make up side dishes (garlic cheese bread being a house favorite) and have them ready to bake.  By dinner, I’m often tired and not wanting to fuss a lot – especially when the kids were young (four years from oldest to youngest).

Pyrex dishes can go in the freezer, oven, microwave, and fridge.  Just don’t take it from one extreme temperature directly to another.  A casserole which calls for a 9×13 baker can fit into four of the small Pyrex rectangular dishes, or into the two medium size rectangles, depending on the casserole.  Dividing out unbaked casseroles into smaller portions allows me to limit leftovers for DH when it’s a dish only he and one of the kids likes, and there is a decadent potato casserole that I and DD2 love which just isn’t safe to have a 9×13 of.  Sometimes I need enforced portion control.  My Pyrex bakers will be useful when the kids fly the nest and there’s only DH and I to cook for as well.

Our weekend taking Mom to zip line went well.  The weather was beautiful and my oldest decided to join her grandma on a first time zip experience, and they all enjoyed the zip.  My oldest did ask for a push, which the guide provided.  I filmed it all between swatting at mosquitoes, which literally filled the air.  I had thought about grabbing the bug spray on the way out the door but didn’t think they’d be fully out yet.  It was a good test of one thing, however.  I recently read that taking B complex vitamins creates some sort of smell that keeps mosquitoes and biting flies from tasting you.  My son seems to be some sort of dessert for these bugs and he’s been taking the B complex for a week.  Not one bite is to be found on him.

This is huge news as one day he came home from school to show me a chest and belly covered with at least twenty bites received during a field day.  He’s gotten cellulitis several times from mosquito bites and we take all kinds of precautions with him.  The rest of us will now be taking the vitamin.  We’ll be traveling to Arkansas next month for vacation and the further south you go, the more varieties of mosquitoes can be found.  We’ll also take bug spray and head nets.  My son has a full body net suit which will no doubt set trends.

My son is a huge fan of the show Mountain Men, and aspires to be one.  (He’s 12, if that gives some insight.)  I’ve been trying to think of how to encourage the interest, although I’m hoping it becomes more of a hobby than full time life style.  This summer I’m going to have him keep a weather journal.  I found a guide to predicting the weather by reading the sky, and this will be a good time for him to practice and learn the skill.  DD2 will probably be interested enough to join in, as she likes studying weather.

I need to think of other things I can help him learn which relate to his interest and are everyday practical as well.  We need to do some cooking over open fire as well as getting the kids into the kitchen more.  He already helps me with my garden, so we’ll continue that.  Maybe we’ll set up a target and get a bag of marbles for him to practice with his sling shot, which he thinks will be useful in acquiring small game such as squirrels.  I can’t get too ambitious as I have a lot of things which need to happen in the summer.

Home school lesson plans are under way, and literature is set for next year.  I only need to plan English, Math, and History as DD2 is taking the vet. science course, which will actually help a lot.  I’m thinking of working through the remainder of the chemistry book next year in addition to the rest as we won’t be able to finish this year.  DD2 may need to be part of that decision.  Chemistry is integral to biology studies and senior year will need physics.

With all of these things to attend to, I’d better go get at some of it.

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Frustrated With Mom

I spoke with my mom today about our up-coming zip line outing.  While talking, I mentioned that we still have plans to meet at a zoo and feed giraffes later in the summer.  She says that she’s planning to have my nephew down for a visit in the summer and we should meet up then.  My jaw must have hit the floor.  Good thing we were on the phone.  This is supposed to be us.  She has had numerous adventures with my sister’s family and I was elated to get her to agree to meet us this summer for this one.

In the big picture, I love my nephew.  In day-to-day, the kid is obnoxious.  My son has to take breaks from the kid a couple of times during a few hour visit.  It’s selfish, but I don’t want my nephew to be part of this outing.  He’ll pick at our son throughout the time, making his day a lot less enjoyable, and we’ll be miserable for our son.  DH and I have agreed that we simply won’t be able to go on whatever Saturday my nephew is visiting Mom.  We won’t enjoy the day at the zoo if he’s there, and we’ve been looking forward to this for a year now.

Add to the picture the fact that my children haven’t been invited to spend time at Grandma’s without us in five or six years, and my nephew still goes yearly.  My kids don’t currently know that, and how would they feel to know that their cousin gets to spend time with Grandma and they don’t?  My kids don’t know about the many times my parents would take a hotel near my sister and take the boys for a night or two and take them to the pool.  There are pictures from boat tours, hiking, etc.  We get three hour visits, even though Mom often talks about things in our area she’d like to do.  My kids don’t know about the back-to-school shopping trips that they’ve never been part of.  They wouldn’t care about the stuff, just the time with grandparents.  My kids have asked my parents (when Dad was alive) why they didn’t stay longer (arrive at eleven, leave at three).  The answer was a vague, “I don’t know.”

My kids don’t know that Mom and Dad made the nine hour trip north in winter every year to see the nephews’ Christmas programs.  Our kids got one church Christmas program, and we’re only three hours away.  My son asked them to attend a (kindergarten) school program, got a vague answer, then cried as he was on the risers realizing they weren’t coming.  I didn’t even know he was still expecting them.

I know that a lot of kids had it way worse than I did, but I’m tired of barely being a third class citizen.  My daughter was inducted into NHS this year, and my Mom said, “Well of course she got in.”  The morning I was to find out if I got in (way back in high school, sitting on a 4 point at a small school), the last thing she said to me on my way out the door was, “Don’t get your hopes up”.

Time after time I heard Mom telling others about my sister’s wonderful gift for writing.  When I placed in a writing contest I heard, “Congratulations.  I never thought you’d win.”

One night when my sister was a high school senior and they were fighting all the time, I saw Mom, Dad, and sis all getting their coats on.  I asked where they were going.  “Family counseling.”  “Can I go?” “No.” They walked out, and it was never brought up again.

It’s amazing the old feelings that well up to the surface as the mama bear in me wants to protect my cubs from my mother’s unthinking ways.  She told me long ago that my oldest nephew is her favorite.  I don’t know what I’ll do if she ever shares that fact with my children.

Mom is going for a colonoscopy this week and she told me that she doesn’t know why she’s doing it as she won’t take action if they find anything anyway.  How am I supposed to respond to that?  This the the third time since my sister died (six months ago, Dad died two and a half years ago) that Mom has made comments about being “ready to go any time” being “disgustingly healthy”.  I don’t think she’s suicidal, but clearly her remaining daughter and grandchildren aren’t enough to fight to be here for.  Why am I even bothering to try to get Mom out for new memories in new places with us?  If she doesn’t care, why should I?  I’ve even wondered to myself if she’ll bother to come to my children’s graduations.  We’ll find out next June.

I know Mom loves me.  She’s just never loved me the way she loved my sister, and that love has translated in kind to our respective children.  That’s what hurts the most.

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Getting it off My Chest

This post will not be politically correct.  I’m not planning to be rude to anyone, I just want to voice my concern for my children without worrying about my wording or other people’s feelings.  This is about my children.

Today, President Obama has issued a letter to public schools declaring that students should be able to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.  I would like to bring in an old saying:

“Your right to throw a punch ends at my nose.”  Meaning: You have your rights, and I have mine.  As long as we don’t infringe upon each others’ rights, all is well.

To me, allowing young men into the girls’ bathroom infringes upon my daughters’ rights.  They have the right to privacy.  My son and daughter both took their clothes into the bathroom stalls when changing for gym class.  They don’t want to be exposed to their peers of the same sex, let alone the opposite sex.  Don’t think this trend in the bathroom won’t soon extend to school locker rooms.

There was a young man in the girls’ bathroom at our high school yesterday.  Who is going to ask him if he identifies as a girl?  Of course he’ll say yes, even if he’s just a creep there to see how much he can get a peep of.  How many kids will dare each other to go into the others’ bathroom just to do it?  I remember high school.  The dares will come.  The can of worms is open and they are covering the floor.

Two days ago I overheard a mom telling her girls to go to the restroom in pairs – always, and for the reason that a man could be in there and you have to protect yourself from potential harm.  Do I think that someone will harm my child simply because they identify themselves as the opposite gender?  No.  I’m more worried about the creeps who will take advantage of the new rules.  I’ve told my kids that they, too, should follow the rule of pairs for bathroom trips.

Some will call me a hater.  They won’t believe me when I say I’m simply standing up for my children and the discomfort they will feel and (in the case of creeps) the potential harm that could come their way as a result of this new system.  I don’t know what the solution is for those who identify with a gender other than that of their birth, but I’m not sure this particular solution was fully thought through.


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Mother’s Day

For the first time that I can remember, I had a nice Mother’s Day.  That sounds cynical, but it’s true.  Normally, none of my children (or DH) acknowledge that it IS Mother’s Day, and the first person to wish me a happy day is at church.  This time, three of the four family members wished me a happy day.  That was good point number one.

Good point number two is that I decided to let the laundry go for the day and didn’t feel guilty about getting a touch behind.

Good point number three was when my son picked a vase full of violets for me.  They’re taking over my garden and need to be dug out, but I can still see their beauty and appreciate the gesture of a child picking them for me.  DD2 helped DS out once she realized what he was doing.

Good point number four was when my son got out some Fimo dough and made a duck for me.  He brought home a clay duck he’d made with extra time in art and I had told him how much I liked it.  He even put feet on the bottom of my duck, which I didn’t see at first because the duck is sitting on them.  It’s an adorable mallard and is now swimming across the fireplace mantle.

Good point number four was a nice chat with my Mom.  I had spoken to her the day before and hadn’t planned to keep her long,  (she tends to get annoyed if I call too often) but she was talkative and we had a good time.  We’ll take her out when we go zip lining, which had to be delayed since our vehicle got smashed and it was the only one big enough for all of us.

We never go out to eat on Mother’s Day because it’s too crazy.  I may or may not have a meal out with all of the running around for a replacement vehicle, but that ends tonight when we finish paying for and doing paperwork to take home a new (to us) van.  It’s been a huge burden and inconvenience to have to find something, but DH knows how much I hate looking at cars and did a lot of leg work on the internet.  He’s joked that he bought me a car for Mother’s Day.  Yippee.  I just need something that runs reliably and fits the family.

So yeah.  Finally a Mother’s Day that didn’t leave me feeling like a marginally appreciated maid.  I don’t need expensive gifts or everyone catering to my wishes – just a little thoughtfulness.

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Plans for the week went off the rails when my car was hit by a car that was rear-ended.  No one in any of the three cars was hurt, and my car still runs but has no driver side turn signal.  Half of the headlight still works, but we want to really limit how much this vehicle is on the road to avoid a ticket.  Cost of fixing the car is the same as the amount we can sell it for.  It’s thirteen years old.  Once the phone call to 911 was made and the car moved off the road, my oldest quipped “You and Dad have been talking about getting a new car anyway.”, and my children and I were all laughing loudly (while the rear-ended man was cursing a blue streak).  We’ve all come up with many things to be thankful for in this not so wonderful event.

  1. My daughter wasn’t driving, I was.
  2. Everyone was okay, including the toddler in the vehicle which caused the accident.
  3. The headlight that ended up in the road had been waiting to be fixed.
  4. The van is old and we’ve considered replacing it for a few years.
  5. The air bags didn’t deploy.
  6. We hadn’t yet committed any money to the bathroom remodel which was to happen this summer.
  7. No new bedroom furniture has been ordered (ours is old and in need of replacing).
  8. The house is within a year of being paid off, so that while adding a car payment will slow that down a touch (we want the mortgage gone!), it’s not catastrophic.
  9. Because of #6 and 7, we have enough in savings for a down payment on a new car without draining the account.
  10. We’re not in the midst of a bunch of appointments for which a second vehicle would be crucial.

Of course, we are now inconvenienced and looking for a new car.  Only one mini van is currently on the market and DH hates it.  We’ll take the kids out with us tomorrow night and get everyone in to see just how cramped and uncomfortable it will be for my long legged teens.

I’m so thankful that my kids were finding things to laugh about and be thankful for without being prompted.  Maybe some things are actually getting through.

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Plugging Along

I looked through my lesson plans for DD2 and realized that there are only six weeks left of school.  Wow.  She’ll be finished before that, though.  I always let her work ahead at her own pace those last three weeks of school.  She just can’t brag to her public schooled siblings about finishing early.

I’m way behind in correcting.  We’ve had cold bug after cold bug enter this house.  I blame the high school.  (somewhat kidding here) My oldest and youngest have to wash their hands when they get home, but I don’t know what goes on at school.  The junior high has scalding hot water in the bathroom sinks – and I use the cold tap.  How many kids will wash their hands when it hurts to do so?  DH says it’s because their heat is by boiler system.  His workplace has the same issue.

DH has mostly finished the basement – it’s been in progress for about ten years – and now it’s clean and re-organize time.  The plastic shelving units were taken apart and washed and the contents are being wiped down to get rid of all the construction dust.  The kids came down and together we got rid of about 20 board games.  DH took them to Salvation Army and about had a melt down as the games for which all pieces were present and accounted for were chucked into a bin, boxes opening and pieces flying everywhere.  I donated a grocery sack of books to the library.  We could have a garage sale, but we really just want to get the stuff out as we go along.  The basement has been a wreck for so long.  DH still has a few trim boards to put up, but things are happening by sections: finish one area and get things moved back, then move to a new spot.  I look forward to having everything in its final place and having a functioning hang out room for the kids (as DD1 is finishing her junior year of high school).

I spent time in the garden over the weekend and my muscles are letting me know about it.  I really want produce!  DD1 likes the crackers with a ‘garden herb’ flavoring, and it hit me that I have a dehydrator.  We can turn veggies into powder, make our own crackers and throw the powder in the dough.  No one will be biting into a piece of vegetable and thereby get the textures of the veggies.  We have sensory issues which can make eating healthy foods a challenge – myself included.  I don’t buy many canned veggies because they’re just too mushy.  Tonight I’m going to be a bit adventurous and try baking seasoned green beans at a high temp for just about 5 minutes, like a do when I make a mix of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.  It can heat the veg and brighten the color without losing the crunch, and I’m hoping to discover that green beans aren’t so bad.

I’ve been thinking about my sister a lot lately.  It’s going to be a rough Mother’s Day for mom, so I really want it to work out to go zip lining this weekend.  I doubt that I’ll be able to talk her into staying for Sunday, but if she at least spends part of the weekend with us it could help ease the emotions.  My eldest asked what I want to do for Mother’s Day, and I had to be honest and say I don’t know because I’m focused on our Moms.  I ought to call my BIL on Sunday, but I don’t know if I will.  He’s not one to spend time on the phone.  He always handed my over to sis pretty quickly, and sis and I didn’t call each other on a frequent basis.  We loved each other, but our personalities are at different ends of the spectrum and there was a five year gap between us which kept us from being close while growing up.

I’m glad my kids are close to each other.  They sometimes annoy each other and fight, but they also really enjoy spending time together.  They may never know what a gift they have.

College is on the horizon and it’s a little odd to think that one our chickadees will be flying off in a little over a year, followed by number two the next fall.  The flip side of that is that my laundry load will be dropping along with grocery needs and other household cares.  That kind of excites me.  The kids will be helping with laundry in the summer (not that they know it yet) so they’ll know what to do when on their own, but DD1 has so much homework during the school year that I don’t want to heap the chores on too thick.  She takes the hardest level of each class and spends the majority of her evenings cuddled up with textbooks.  Of course, my youngest will be moaning and groaning all summer as he already thinks I treat them like slaves (yes, he used that word to describe it) when they have to change their sheets, clean their bathroom (split into three jobs), and fold and put away their laundry all on Saturday.  I told him he was welcome to change his sheets on a different day, but that clearly was not the issue.

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Minor Dramas

Currently we’re watching lettuce grow out of the cut end of a clump of leaf lettuce purchased from the grocery store.  I had seen that celery will regrow if you put the entire clump end into water, and we have now established that lettuce does it too.  It’s not relevant to any of our studies.  It’s just cool.

The end-of-year school activities have begun.  DD1 was inducted into the National Honor Society this week and this morning was the honor roll program.  The NHS ceremony was interesting from one point.  Inductees were sitting on a stage facing their parents, which put their knees at our eye level.  Fashion trends currently have most of the girls wearing short skirts.  One girl in particular has not learned how to sit while wearing a skirt.  My family worked very hard to look at the students’ eye level, just in case too much showed.  I did let the school know of our observation to prevent any unfortunate pictures or other embarrassments next year.   Please, please, please: teach your daughters how to sit in dresses and skirts!

Our son is loving throwing pottery.  Only one more session left, in which they’ll be glazing their creations.  DD2 and I have been recruited to come help as he made several pieces.  I haven’t seen them yet and am anxious to see how they came out, although the only thing that matters is that he enjoyed it and learned something new.

We’ve got a tentative date to take my mom zip lining.  We had wanted to take her for her birthday last fall, but she postponed it as my sister was on hospice at the time.  I’ve thought about trying it with her, but have decided to keep my feet on firm ground and be the historian.  DH and two of the kids love it and will zip with her.  DD1 is considering, but it’s not likely that she’ll go.

It’s the time of year where I’m planning the next school year.  I don’t have as much as usual to plan for next year as DD2 is taking the veterinary course, but I need to pick an algebra 2 package.  I think I’ve decided on Saxon but would love to be able to flip through a book first.  I like that a DVD is included with introductory lessons.

I’m working on the literature selections for both junior and senior year at once.  Junior year is world lit and senior year will either be world lit continued or just Brit. lit.  I’m reading new books now, loading things onto her Kindle, printing out the literature packets, etc.  She had to make a category in her Kindle of “Do not read” so she remembers to save those items for school.  I still have her read physical books, too, but a lot of the classical literature is in the public domain and free is awesome.

I recently made the mistake of observing that I was going to get to see my tulips this year (while looking out the window at the many developing buds).  Later that day I looked again and at least half had been chomped off.  I hate rabbits some days.

My garden fence had to be reinforced.  Our neighbors built a basketball court next to the property line last fall (cement pad complete with free throw markings), and those balls smash into my garden and roll across our yard on a near daily basis.  The garden fence takes direct hits from the balls and ball retrievers step over the fence rather than use the gate.  I’ve run a number of stakes through the fencing to strengthen it, and put posts along the planting beds to deflect balls away from the vegetables.  A volleyball net was strung along the top of the fence a week or two ago, but it doesn’t do too much.

A rude awakening is coming to the athletes, because the plan for 15 years has been to build a bonus room off of the living room, and a border of cedars needs to get started in order to provide some privacy.  The young cedars will be fenced to protect the developing shrubs, making access to our yard much less convenient (they cut a gate into their fence last fall).  We’re not starting a war.  We like these neighbors – just hate the basketball.  The shrubs were planned long before this family moved in.

What would life be without minor dramas?

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