Waiting for the Reaction

All summer, by son heard that I wanted his room cleaned before school started.  It didn’t happen.  Last night he fell asleep before turning out his light, so I went in and did it.  Walking in, I had to carefully put my foot under the pile of blankets on the floor and slide it forward to avoid stepping on anything.  When I turned to leave, I stepped on a pile of stuff and almost lost my balance.  That was the last straw.  I’ve stubbed my toes, stepped on items, and had to shuffle to protect my feet in his room one too many times.

He’s been warned before that his dad or I could come in and box items up.  Today I did it.  I threw very little away, and those items are still in his trash can.  The rest of the items are in bags and boxes in his sister’s room.  (The one at college)  The deal will be that he needs to go through these containers in the same room as his father or I, and he needs to deal with all of these items before his sister comes home (or we will).  Before items go back in the room, he’s going to need to deal with the items on shelves so there will be a place to put things other than on the floor.  I pulled a shocking amount of stuff out of the room.

This is not a new struggle.  We’ve been battling the state of his room for years.  While the kids were young, I would help them clean their rooms.  I would help them to define a small space to work on, then stay with them to help them stay on track until that space, box, cupboard, shelf, etc. was cleaned.  Two days ago I went to turn on my son’s overhead light and nothing happened.  Rather than tell me his bulbs were burnt out, and thus allow me to come in, he’s been getting by with his 40 Watt bed side lamp.

I found ridiculous items such as the stickers from new clothing, bandaids, wadded kleenex, a candy wrapper – which isn’t supposed to be eaten upstairs, bits of tape, tags, etc.  I don’t know how to make this important to him.  I’ve not asked for more than is reasonable.  I want to be able to walk safely in his room, especially between the door and his closet.  I want to be able to vacuum now and then.  Today filled the canister, and that was without moving furniture or getting into the closet.  He’s seen how much dust/fluff comes out of his room.  I wanted him to know what he’s breathing in each night.

We’ll see what happens.  He’ll be home in half an hour.  You may hear his sound of Ultimate Suffering.

 

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The Start of the School Year

The oldest child was dropped off at college (this is new for us) this past weekend.  My home schooled senior and public schooled freshman started classes today.  The youngest was quite eager to begin, especially after seeing DD1’s college.  The younger two hadn’t seen campus until we dropped DD1 off.  Now DS is all jazzed for college and it is the absolute perfect timing to be excited.  Hopefully this newfound universe (pun not fully intended) will help him to stay on track with grades.

DD1 has texted numerous times over the weekend, and that is one reason that cell phones are a good tool.  She apologized for not seeing my text to her the first night (I just said good night to let her know she was still in our thoughts), saying she was hanging out with people.  That’s what she should be doing and I told her so.  There are things she’s realized she needs, so we’ll be going back this weekend.  Thankfully she’s only an hour and a half away!

DD2 is already feeling a bit overwhelmed.  She becomes so anxious about math, and DH agreed to pull back a little and give her a year of business math to help shore up the basics and hopefully build her confidence in the subject over all.  I’m giving her a course of physics – but it will be physics lite.  We bought a video course with sixty lessons, and I have a couple of books to gather from as well.  The object will be to expose her to the topic, but not give her all of the heavy math that usually accompanies.

Even hearing the plan this morning, she was a bit tearful and followed physics with her literature reading while the cat warmed her lap.  I want to push her as much as I reasonably can and expose her to as much as I reasonably can.  I’m not going to plan too far in advance for physics – we may have to tweak the approach several times as we find our way through the subject.  Exposure to the topic and even just a surface knowledge is better than none, in my eyes.

It’s been a blessing to be able to home school my sensory daughter, but it’s been difficult too.  I never discounted the challenges that her public school teacher faced before the final event that led us to pull her out.  I’m thankful that her public school veterinary course last year was taught by two amazing, understanding women who went out of their way to help the year be a success.  I’m thankful that I’ve been able to tailor her studies in consideration of her individual challenges as well as her strengths.  I’m also thankful that this is her senior year of high school.

As a family, we are at the point where the young chicks are getting ready to fly from the nest.  I’m looking to boot anyone from the nest, just looking forward to the baby steps of giving up responsibilities.  Soon there will be no more school to teach.  I’ll still be a tutor when my younger two need a hand, but I won’t need to plan, gather materials, grade, etc. I gave up my eldest’s laundry this summer and now my grocery shopping is slightly reduced.  There are fewer clothes to make as the children graduate.  I could go on, but won’t.

Sometimes I feel a bit selfish about anticipating the lessened responsibility, but at the same time I recognize that I never get to fully retire.  I will still be cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc. for DH long after the kids fly the nest.  What I look forward to is not the fact that I won’t be doing things for my children anymore, but rather I look forward to having the time to learn new things and complete projects which I haven’t had time for.

Besides, when the grandchildren come along, many years from now, I’ll have projects galore for my children again.

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The Versatile Cookie Cutter

Recently I took my annual mother/eldest daughter trip downtown.  This summer tradition began years ago and is something we look forward to.  Our downtown area isn’t large (neither is our town), but it has some interesting shops.  One of our stops is always into a local kitchen shop.  We look at pretty much everything, and while looking I spied a hummingbird cookie cutter.  Now, I bake enough to know that this is not a wonderful shape to actually use for cookies.  The long beak will break off.  My mother taught me that cookie cutters are for much more, however.

What are they for if not for cookies?  Mom uses them as patterns for quilting.  She made a quilt for my son with dolphin fabric and used a cookie cutter to quilt dolphins on the solid blue fabric.

Use them for outlines for crafting or to help the kids make special greeting cards.  Use them for other baking cut outs.  My kids love when I use them for biscuits.  I usually go for the simpler outlines on biscuits as they puff up and won’t keep the same detail as a sugar cookie.

Of course, once I found the hummingbird I kept looking.  I snagged a simple polar bear that will be added to our Christmas cookies.  It’s a stretch, but he’s cute.  Then I saw it.  The hippo (don’t make me spell the whole word!).  At first, I wondered who would want a hippo in their cookies.  Then a song popped in my head.  (My husband teases that I have  a song for everything.)

The kids and I love the “I Want a Hippo. for Christmas” song, and suddenly I knew I had to add a hippo cookie into the Christmas mix.  My oldest started laughing.  She’ll keep this a surprise.

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Frugal Happy Dance

Last week, DD2 and I found several Yankee Candle items on clearance, and decided to tuck four packs of tealights away for a Christmas gift.  DD2’s sensory-ness loves to smell their candles.  She happily picked out her candles and I was thrilled to be saving 75%.

When I got home and went to break the receipt out for DH (who tracks expenditures on the computer), I saw that we had been overcharged for three of the packages.  Today I got that corrected and now, since you get extra money back on overcharges, we have purchased four dozen tealights for the sales tax on 1/4 the original price.

Watch your receipts!

Life is good.

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An Ending and Other Stuff

4H is almost over for DD2.  All that is left is picking up her fair projects Sunday morning and letting the group leader and sewing teachers know.  DD2 decided that after six years, she was ready to be finished.  She’s a senior this coming school year and also hopes to get a job with a vet clinic.  She doesn’t want to have to ask for time off for the meetings or the fair obligations.

I know that is the right decision for her.  This past week has seen her do more crafting than I’ve seen in the past six months.  Her joy is back, and that’s the main point to most things in life.  She’s learned tons about sewing and gotten a start on knitting and crocheting through 4H.  She even taught her siblings how to knit.  This last week saw her pull out her quilling (paper curling, to put it very simply), knitting, smocking (a form of embroidery), wool felting (a kit she received two Christmases ago), and painting.  Whew!

We’re not telling the leaders until after the fair as there is enough on their minds right now.

Today I took the kiddos for hair cuts.  DS was shaggy before we left for vacation.  He never likes his hair after it’s cut and often wears a ball cap for a few days, but today he’s actually okay with it.  Of course the girl who cut his hair is done at the end of the week.  We took pictures from every side to work from next time.  He doesn’t really know how to describe what he’s looking for and hasn’t found a picture to show it.  We went through tons of pictures trying to find something close, but if this works, great!

I think I’m finished going through the kid’s clothes now.  I pulled several pair of socks with holes out of DD2’s drawer.  She gets attached to her clothing and has a really hard time seeing things leave.  She’s got quite a few socks, so she got one new pair for each two thrown out.  She had chosen the new socks already and we have a couple more pair waiting in the wings.  Two old pair of socks are on deathwatch.  I didn’t want to shock her system too badly!

The end of summer is quickly approaching and there are coupons to be used from the library reading program.  I hope we can fit them in.

Home school planning needs to be done.

The house needs a thorough cleaning – still.  That’s pretty much a perpetual thing.

Sewing needs to be looked after.  Still.

Sigh.  Oh well.  We’ll just keep moving and see what happens.

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Back to School Shopping…Ugh

I’m tired and a bit overwhelmed at the receipt totals.  Others would look at those same receipts and wonder why I see anything awful in them, but I look at them and wonder how so many people get by today.  Perhaps they don’t – they just live in debt.

My kids have been raised to gladly accept looking through the clearance areas first.  We have a regional chain that almost every year has had a good selection of tennis shoes in the clearance aisle.  My kids see the original prices and their eyes get really big.  I just point out that’s why we shop the way we do.  Even with clearance and sales, it’s been a bit of sticker shock.

The kids don’t get new clothes and shoes simply because it’s a new school year.  We usually shop this time of year because of sales and to try to make sure things fit all school year.

This year my son grew four inches and needed all new jeans.  We had been buying his jeans at WalMart (low cost, didn’t hurt as much that his size changes so often).  But no 30×34 jeans were to be found and we had to look elsewhere.  The difference in price hurt but could have been much worse.

The kids all have worn out shoes by this time of year (DD1 has a large hole in the side of her shoes that I hadn’t seen before vacation), and thankfully two of the three found new ones for at least half price, if not a bit lower.  It’s really helpful that my kiddos don’t look for particular labels unless it’s because a certain brand fits them well.

My girls are 5ft 9in and 5ft 10 inches tall.  They can’t just buy jeans any old place anymore and have them be long enough.  It would be great if more places offered varying inseams for girls, but for now you just have to go to the pricier retailers.  I bit the bullet and bought Land’s End jeans for my oldest.  I’ve had their jeans in the past and they are of good quality.  Thankfully they had a fit for her on clearance, but it was still $30 a pair.  Here’s hoping they last a few years.

I could shop the thrift stores and reduce my bills further.  Frugality, however, does not always mean taking the cheapest option.  Some people find great deals at the thrift store and I applaud them.  Some even find items with the tags still on them.  It takes frequent searching to find those special deals, however, and my two youngest would rather be home than shopping 99.9% of the time.

I guess I just think about how much the costs all add up, even with most items being half price, and wonder how other families do it.  I think about how much worse the total bills would be if we shopped like so many other families around us, and it overwhelms me.

I’ll just have to be thankful that my kids aren’t addicted to brand names or trends, and don’t care if their items were full price or discounted.

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La Quinta: That Was a New One

While on vacation, we spent a couple of days in Connecticut.  The state was a new experience, but the hotel where we stayed will live in our memories forever.  We stayed in a LaQuinta for the first time.

My mantra was: It’s very clean.  And it was.

Our room reservation was not as expected, but we worked through that.  Then we went to use the bathroom and there is only one hand towel.  Not several bath towels with wash cloths to match and one hand towel.  One hand towel was the total number of towels given to us.  I literally was swiping towels off of the housekeeping carts as they got clean ones.  Yes, they were still cleaning rooms at 8pm… two of the three nights we were there.

I also had to swipe soap.  We had no soap of any sort when we checked in.  Why did I feel the need to swipe soap and towels rather than just ask for them?  I did ask before we went to dinner.  We still didn’t have them when we came back from dinner.

Night number two.  We returned from a day spent sight seeing, tired and arms full to find that the room keys don’t work.  I took the two keys to the front desk to have it fixed.  No one was there.  The desk clerk could easily be doing something, so I hung out.  After a couple of minutes, I started to click the plastic keys together to make noise and nicely alert the clerk to my presence.  No response.  I made the doors open, thinking the noise may get the clerk’s attention.  Nope.  I wandered around the lobby, breakfast area, pool, etc. looking for the clerk.  No one.

I started to call, politely at first, “Is anyone working the front desk?”  Still no response.  I’m tempted to go behind the desk and see if anyone is in the back of the office.  I call louder, then louder still.  I go bang hard on the office door and start to scream quite loudly for help.  I’m feeling foolish, but DH is texting to find out what’s taking so long and I’ve been here about ten minutes already.  Finally, a long haired clerk (dark and straight, if you happen to see her) comes out from the back office rubbing her eyes and telling me that I really need to pound on the door so I can be heard over the washing machines, and muttering that she was the only one on duty.

I wish I had gone behind the counter and gotten a picture of her napping, which she obviously had been doing.

She fixes the keys and tells me not to keep it by credit cards ( the key had spent the day in my pocket far away from phone and credit cards).  I take the keys upstairs and they don’t work.

DH takes the keys back down to the desk and she’s gone again and the phone is ringing off the hook.  He found her outside talking to the driver of the casino shuttle bus.

The kids went swimming and although they were the only ones in the pool each night, we had to ask for pool towels each time.  They only brought four each time they were requested.

The breakfast buffet the first morning was being stocked by the desk clerk.  I’m using the term “stocked” loosely as there was almost no food.  I went out to the car and grabbed our emergency Pop Tarts.  Thank Heaven we had them!  I couldn’t even get a glass of juice.

The room keys had to be re-coded our third night there as well, and the long haired clerk was still a chatty flake whenever we happened to see her.

I’ve never had to yell in a hotel lobby to get a desk clerk before, and then be told that I had to “really pound on the door” so she could hear me.

We’ll be laughing about the napping clerk forever, but will probably never stay in a LaQuinta again.

 

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