Make the Most of it

While at a university thing for our high school senior this past weekend, a mom was talking about how hard it will be to let her child go off to college next fall.  My mind jumped to a comment from a parent at our church, “Everything fun that our kids have done have been with someone else”.

So this is more to the newer parents than the veterans.  You get about eighteen solid years with your kids.  How do you want to spend those years?  When you’ve just brought your baby home from the hospital and you hear someone say how fast the years pass, listen to them.

Not every day will be perfect.  You will lose your temper.  They will too.  We all have tired days.  Kids misbehave now and then and correction needs to be administered.  No one enjoys punishing their kids.  If you do your job well and consistently, the need for punishments lessens with time.

Now let’s think about the good days and what you want them to look like.  Some people think you can spoil a baby by picking them up when they cry.  I decided that I would never regret having picked that crying child up when they were 18 and ready to move out.  After all, that touch is bestowing love and it’s hard to get too much love from your parent.

We have held family vacations in high importance.  DH didn’t have them growing up as his parents ran a business.  He also wants to see all fifty states.  Our city offers some amazing camps for kids in the summer, but I explained to the kids that for the cost of a four day camp for each of them, we’d have three nights in a hotel and at least one meal.  On vacation we build memories together.  The kids would have had a great time at individual camps of choice, but instead we had a great time as a family.

Our church has a lot of activities for the youth, all of which are fun and have a lot of time in which the kids build their relationship with God.  They also have a price tag.  Our kids do some of the activities, but not the big ones.  The big ones would take away from our family vacations.  The parent who said her kids had done all of the fun stuff with other people sent her kids to all of the youth activities.

We eat dinner together.  Sounds simple enough, but when I was a kid, my parents ate dinner in front of the tv watching the news, while my sister and I ate at the table with our noses buried in books.  My family laughs a lot at the dinner table and we hear about how the day went for everyone.  That’s another thing to not regret.

I try to get out with each child individually now and then.  Admittedly, that’s easier with the girls than with my son.  The girls like to window shop and they each have favorite places to do so.  My son doesn’t have a favorite place to go.  Now and then I’ll make it a point to take each out to lunch, just the two of us.  That has to be spread out a bit, but the kids don’t mind.

Sometimes I have to make sure I make eye contact with my child as they’re telling me something about their day.  I’ve got a lot to do, as everyone does, and it’s easy to keep working instead of giving full attention.

There’s a lot of rambling here.  The point is that you really don’t get a lot of time with your kids before they’re off to start their own life adventure.  Fill it with times when you are really present with them, not just in body.  It doesn’t take money to have fun with your kids.  Let them know they are loved.  Tell them.  I don’t remember my parents ever telling me, and I was in a good home.

Live in a way you won’t regret when your child is 18 and ready to start their adult life.

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Winter is Coming

We’ve had pretty mild weather for November, and that tends to make a person forget about the looming snow and freezing temperatures which are the norm for this time of year.  Yesterday a power line was taken down due to high winds.  That knocked power out for our corner of town.  Fortunately, the power was only out from around 10 am until 7:30 pm.  It could have been much worse.  It did, however, put power outages back into the front of my mind.

On the positive end, some LED lights which were recently purchased proved quite useful and bright.  Now I need to get another pack as the first three got assigned to use quickly.  DD1 had a lot of homework, which extended well into the dark hours.  A lantern which can be hung went on the shopping list.  I have a lantern which can be hand cranked or solar charged, but it isn’t bright enough for school work.  Today I got a battery powered camping lantern.  DD1  had strapped on a head lamp for help, and so I plan to pick a few more of those up as well.  One should go in the glove box of the car, even though we already have a small flash light.

Candle and match supplies are good, but the oil lamp chimneys need to be washed.  I was a bit worried that the dust would catch fire:)

Thinking ahead to the morning, I started to gather the non electric breakfast items.  In our house, that means Pop Tarts (kept for treats) and bottled juice.  I had to work to gather enough for the troops.  I know that these aren’t very nutritious, but the kids only eat them when the power is out or we’re on vacation.  Lunch options need a bit of replenishing as well.  I try to keep a couple of the non-refrigerated Hormel dinners for DH, and the ones I have are out of date.  I dropped the ball on that.  I find it useful to have a box of Caprisun or other packaged drinks for lunchboxes.  It comes in handy for field trips as well.

A few of the flashlights were getting dim, so I popped new batteries in.  Time to buy more batteries and check the rest of the flashlights.

It’s just good to get a gentle reminder to go over the emergency supplies.

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Gearing Up

The holidays are upon us.  I’d like to say that I’m on top of everything, but it would be a big fat lie.  I’ve been plugging away, but am no where close to where I should be.

DD2 is now on a beta blocker, and hopefully that will solve the pvc issue.  If not, we could be staring down a heart surgery in late spring.  She does not know the ‘if not’ part.  She worries too much to know the what if’s.

To make DH happy, I strung lights up in front of the house.  I love looking at everyone else’s displays.  I just don’t enjoy the set up and take down of my own.  The ladder, even though just a two step deal with wide treads, did not make my arthritic knee happy.  Fortunately my son willingly helped me and did some of the ladder work in my place.  I used to think I’d decorate the house for every holiday and make special cookies for each holiday for the kiddos, but reality is that I only enjoy making a fuss for Christmas.  The others just aren’t worth my time or the storage space.

I’ve gotten some work done on Christmas cards and the letter to go within them, but there’s still a long way to go.  That’s my fault, because I feel that people still deserve to have actual handwriting inside the card, even though I use address labels and a typed letter.

All of the baking lies ahead.  I love to bake, but my days are so chopped up this year that it’s more burden than fun.

Gifts are the one department in which I’m sitting pretty.  The kids are all purchased for and wrapped, and there’s just one more gift to be ordered and minimal wrapping to be done.  That’s a blessing to me.  I love seeing the mall decked out, but really don’t want to be shopping with the crowds.

There’s still a good deal of work to be done on DD1’s special dress.  I was supposed to work on it this past weekend, but other chores kept popping up.  The formal Christmas party is two weeks away, so I’ll need to sew in the evenings to finish on time.

It would also be nice to do some beading on a velvety shirt we found for DD2 while thrift store shopping.  We found a black dress last year but she doesn’t love the neckline.  We solved that with a lucky find of a petite beaded shirt last year.  Being a petite let the bottom edge of the shirt sit perfectly on the dress.  You had to look hard to see that she was actually wearing two separate pieces.

Each year I intend to be on top of things, and each year I still end up behind.  At least we don’t host a fancy Christmas dinner anymore.  We used to do turkey when Mom and Dad came, but since Dad died, Mom comes for Thanksgiving instead.  We eat whatever we choose for Christmas dinner.  DH likes to have a non-traditional meal, and the kids aren’t fond of turkey and trimmings anyway.


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Our middle daughter has recently been diagnosed with exercise induced PVC’s.  A pvc is a premature vascular contraction.  Don’t ask me beyond that.  I know that they are common enough.  I know two other people who have told me they have them.  The difference is that my daughter’s are brought on by exercise, which apparently makes them more serious.

She’s been seeing a cardiologist for several years now, keeping tabs on a heart murmur.  He found a prolapse a few years ago, but hasn’t been concerned by it and it hasn’t become worse, nor has the murmur.  Then, at the yearly well check, her pediatrician heard a funky heart beat after DD2 jogged in place for a few seconds.  She heard it again after a second jog, and sent us back to the cardiologist.

So DD2 got to wear a monitor for 24 hours.  Then we heard that the results showed the pvc’s and just to be safe they wanted a stress test.  She wasn’t able to go the whole ten minutes, but they got a good amount of data.  One person sent in to observe commented (out of DD2’s earshot, but within mine) that she’d never seen so many pvc’s.  That makes a mom feel good.

The doctor observed the stress test, asked the technicians to print it out fairly early in, and is looking at all of the information he has together before deciding the next step.  It may be an MRI, it may be medication, it may be both.  I’m glad DD2 was recovering her breath while he spoke with me so I could water down the concern when letting her know what he said.  She worries, so I’m trying to keep things factual at this point.

She was exhausted and nauseous the entire afternoon, although the test was finished by 12:30.  Thank Heaven we home school in the afternoon!  She still did school work, but we tailored it a little to accommodate how she was feeling.  Of course I was worried, and unsure how worried I ought to be.  That was Thursday.  Now fast forward to Sunday and it’s the end of Sunday school and her teacher is looking for me because she’s in pain.  It was in her ribs, but when it’s that bad and all of these other things are going on too you go to urgent care.  They found nothing.  She’s got a cold, so they listened to her lungs and took a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.  This morning she seemed okay so we headed to school.  We pulled into the parking lot, and she wasn’t looking so great.  I called in the absence and we came home and she spent the morning sleeping.  Add in a call from her pediatrician this morning to see how she’s doing.

How worried should I be?  I don’t remember ever getting a follow up call on an urgent care visit before.  I think the girl even said she’d check back in the afternoon.  I may just have to ask them if more needs to be done here.  I understand the desire to stave off undue concern in patients and parents, but I’m at the point where I’d like a little more information.

Here’s hoping we hear from the cardiologist before Thanksgiving.  I just want to know more about what we’re dealing with.


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Elections Have Consequences

I just commented on a blog post about the election results, and honestly I doubt that it will be approved.  Why won’t it?  Because I didn’t sympathize with the dismayed students who were crying “Not My President!”.

What I suggested is that this be turned to a learning opportunity.  After any given presidential election, about half of the country will be disappointed.  Whether your candidate was elected or not, the elected president still presides over all of America.

I suggested a look into other elections in which the winning candidate did not get the popular vote.  It does happen.

If students are upset that the electoral college vote and the popular vote don’t match, it’s an opportunity to study how the electoral college works and why it was set up the way it is.

New York City and Chicago pretty much rule their states.  Northern California’s voice is often drowned out by the lower portion of the state.  Detroit and Flint (liberal, union) often control Michigan, although the western and northern regions lean conservative.  Maybe we need to award electoral college votes a bit differently and split state votes into regions within the states (without carefully carving those regions).

Donald Trump was elected as our president, now we have to see what kind of President he will be, the same as if Clinton was elected.  The same thing we’ve done since we started voting in this country.

In the first few elections, the person with the second most votes became the vice president.  This could be another learning opportunity for students.  When did the system change and why?  Discuss the pros and cons of the original system and the one in place today.

President Obama once stated that elections have consequences, and they do.  Sometimes it means that the winds shift the way you want them to, and sometimes they shift the opposite way you want.  Our country tends to have a democrat in office for 8-12 years, then the republican party has the office for about the same length of time.

Especially in regards to the students of our country, who are future or new voters, make this a learning experience.  Take this reaction in a positive direction so these young people can make a peaceful difference in future elections.

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For the Room Parents

Recent events led me to think back over the years that my kids were in elementary school and the reasons that I stopped signing up to help with school parties.  As I thought about it, it struck me that it could be helpful to current or prospective room parents and teachers to know my experience.

I began by signing up for parties, donations, etc., but t didn’t take long before I was thoroughly disgusted by the whole group running the show.  Why?

If you watch The Middle, you may remember when Mike failed to use a pen on the sign up sheet and thus had his name erased.  I used a pen.  It didn’t matter.  The Christmas party was just a few days away and I hadn’t been contacted yet, although I had signed up to bring a sweet snack and drinks.  I got out the class list and made a call, only to find out that the room moms had bumped me to a different holiday and a different category.

Strike one.  The room moms probably assumed I wouldn’t mind.  I did.  I have three kids, and signed up for things carefully so that each class event I volunteered anything for was a different date from the other two I needed to sign up for.  I wrote the sign-ups in my calendar to keep track.  If you need to switch someone on your sign up sheet, at least call them and ask if it’s okay to do so.

Strike two came when I was asked to bring special napkins for a holiday party.  I don’t normally purchase the cute stuff.  You’re wiping the crud off of your face with them.  Plain old white does that the same as any other.  But, it was for the kids so I bit the bullet and got the cute napkins.  They came home unopened, with a note that the class already had napkins, so they just used those.

Strike three was when I was asked to provide pickles and olives for a class picnic.  The jars came home barely touched.  I wanted to make an actual contribution to these events, not a token gesture.

By this time, I was finished with all forms of signing up/volunteering.  Then came the email from a room mom who was campaigning for United Way donations.  I promptly wrote back to let her know that using the class list in this manner was highly inappropriate.  The class list is meant for school-related use, not marketing.

So if you are a room parent, coordinater, or teacher, please remember that parents are real live people who have schedules, often more than one child, and lives that don’t completely revolve around one child’s class activities.  Some are like me and will stop helping.

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Frugal Habits

It’s really been in the past ten years that I began to think along frugal lines.  I was never one to throw money away casually, but I didn’t think about my spending as much as I should have.  Recently I’ve been thinking over the things which have become habit for me.  I practiced one of those habits this morning.

Habit 1) scooping up deals the day after a holiday.  I didn’t really think I’d find much today.  Last year was a flop, but I shopped in a different town today and that may have made a difference.  My kids love LoftHouse cookies, which are expensive, but WalMart had tons of them today and even though orange frosting works through Thanksgiving, they were half off.  I also indulged in some cute cupcakes ($1.49 for a dozen minis).  Then I put Reese’s pumpkins in the cart for DH for Christmas.  Really, two bites in and you don’t remember that it wasn’t shaped like a tree – those are for Easter anyway.

Habit 2) hanging clothes to dry overnight then finish in the dryer the next day.  Our clothes racks are inside, so we can’t get the thorough dry which a nice breeze will bring.  Still, it cuts electricity usage and in the winter adds moisture into the dry air.

Habit 3) watching clearance aisles.  Before, I would look through these areas once in a while, but now I take time for them each trip to the store.  I don’t always find something I need, but frugal ways are patient.  I have a mental list of things which we use frequently, things which will need replacing soon, and things which each family member likes.  That leads into the next habit.

Habit 4) shopping for Christmas all year.  This one takes some organization.  I keep a list of what I’ve purchased, for whom, the price paid, and the original price.  I like to add up the savings once the shopping is complete, and I need to keep track of how much I’ve spent.  It’s easier to go over budget when the shopping is over a twelve month period.  You also need a set location to store these items so you can find January’s purchase when ready to wrap in December.

Habit 5) be willing to pick up socks or other frequently used items when on sale and hang on to an extra package until needed.  I don’t ever want to have to pay full price if I can avoid it.  If you are on a tight budget, I’d recommend that you just watch the sales and purchase close to replacement need.  It’s not frugal to purchase extra or ahead when the bills are pressing.

Habit 6) mend your clothes and other fixable items.  I was raised by a sewer, so this wasn’t a big change for me.  When in college, I found a shirt I liked reduced to a good price, but a few buttons were loose.  I bought it and made the adjustment.  Win-win.  This attitude is passing to my children, thankfully.  I can’t count the times they’ve brought things to us for repair.  Princess Leia had to live with one arm, though.  We decided she’d lost to a light sabre.

Habit 7) make foods from scratch.  I don’t always do this.  Again, I was raised by a baker, so making my own bread has never been something to frighten me.  I enjoy kneading.  Boxed foods do hit our table, especially on hectic nights.  It’s good to expand your list of things you are capable of making.  I go in spurts of searching for new recipes to replace boxes.

There are other habits I’ve formed which I’ll think of ten seconds after publishing this post, and tons of habits which other frugal people have formed, but this is not meant to be all encompassing.   I really need to make time to learn to knit socks, but at least I know how to darn them when that day comes!

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