Friday, May 31, 2013

Parenting: Especially With ADHD and The World That Has Created It

I debated what to call this post.  "Dealing with ADHD" , "When You Want To Lock Your Kid Up Till They Get It", "When Homeschooling Looks Fabulous"...I could go on.

It's been quite a week.  Raising kids in this generation of whatever is really curious to me.  Let me just say I could not be happier that it's the last day of school.  At the same time, I see I have my work cut out for me with gaining some training ground with my kids this summer.

I have two kids that just have a struggle with social skills.  One slightly, and one severely.  Emma has the most amazing sense of humor.  She loves to laugh and she loves a good joke.  She sees things from a quirky odd angle that can be extremely funny and awkward at other times.  Add to that her lack of fear in saying what she thinks, and you have a recipe for both some amazing crack ups and moments of seat squirming.  This past week she thought it would be funny to prank her one of her friends with a scary text message.  I found out about this through a call from the principal of her school.  Thankfully, it did not take place on school grounds because she would have been cited I'm sure.  The text message read "The grim reaper is coming tonight for your and your sister"  She intended to follow it up with a "just kidding..it's Emma" text but her phone was borrowed by her friend and she forgot.

Years and years ago, in a safe society, perhaps this would have been the joke it was meant to be.  The parents freaked out and called the principal.  I got asked if there was any hostile history between my daughter and this boy.  If you know Emma, you know she does not have a hostile bone in her body.  So, Rick and I spent a long time talking to her about the reality of the world she is growing up in where children who say these things may end up coming in and blowing other kids heads off.  Yep, it's hard to tell your kid that reality but they have to know it.  You know what, my conclusion is that this society really sucks.  A kid cannot be a kid anymore.  They can't play cops and robbers, they are limited on the playground from all kinds of normal things we use to play due to the threatening aspect of possible hostility.

Our challenge though was with the fact that at nearly 13, she did not get the social problem with it.  I told her that was a good sign really that she lived in a happy bubble.  She knows she would never inflict harm or truly wish to scare anyone but we adults DO live in a really, really scary world.  Every day we send our kids off, we don't know if they will come back!  So, as glad as I was for her happy bubble, I was myself shocked that she did not see how awful that text was.

Then, there is our son.  Like just about every other boy, Caed has been diagnosed with ADHD.  That in and of itself is another post.  We saw signs when he was young but I was in denial and did not want to believe it was happening.  You have one boy and you hope he never has it...and then he does.  Some people believe this is a made up concept, or they believe it's an excuse for bad behavior.  Don't judge unless you live with it.  I know it's a fact.  I do believe there are factors in our environment and society that create it or perhaps make it come to light in the way it does crippling our boys.  The fast pace of society, the snap to it go-go pace, and the "here open your brain and let me pour all this in and if you spill a drop or don't get it all you will be in trouble".  Oh, and add to that this:  "while I do this dumping into your brain, let me put you in an environment of incredible distraction and overwhelming stimuli that will make it near impossible for you to receive any of it".  I'm just so frustrated right now.

I know the steps with my son.  He goes from doing okay, to struggling, to starting to feel insecure as he looses track on all levels (papers disappearing, forgotten, forgotten lunches, etc).  He begins to space out which leads to more losing track.  He does not hear instruction no matter how slow or repetitive it's given to him.  He frustrates the teacher and feels the frustration.  Add that to the frustration he all ready feels with himself and the element of semi-bulling he get's from kids at play time (he has been made fun of for not like sports like other boys and playing "imagination games" instead.  the kids have told him he is too little to play act).  Also, the desire to be funny when it's never appropriate to be so.  You know what you get?  A mad kid.  His final straw is always anger.  I know as his mom that that means he is at the end of a long line of issues that were not resolved.  It also ends with an upset teacher.

In this past week he has just hit all the possible improprieties he can.  He was given a writing assignment to write down something important that happened to him.  All the other kids were writing about fun things and he wanted to write about how he fell and busted his head open when he was three.  Not to mention that is just about how many words he used in his supposed paragraph of writing.  I get it, there is no real way to sit down and deal with a kid like this in a classroom.  He gets to a frustrated point and is sent out to work with a teacher one on one, and is asked to change the theme of his story.  Instead he pics how his first dog he got had to go because it went potty in the house.  Great.  Just great.

But you know what!!!?  That is what came to his mind!  He is NOT good at creative writing.  One of the problems with the ADHD is getting any productivity out of a kid when dealing with their weak points or points of no interest at all.

Out of his frustration he has been rude and what I interpret to be aggressive with his teacher and I can tell she is frustrated I don't have him on medication.  We gave him meds for about three weeks (which was so difficult because he can't swallow a simple pill, which is the case with all my kids, so we have to open the pill and sprinkle the contents into jello but make sure he does not bite into any of it as it's time released) and he did not feel it was helping.  About that time I got this awful gut feeling that I did not want to medicate him for now.  Perhaps I panicked.  Perhaps I gave into fear.  I really don't know!  Sometimes all you can go on in parenting is your gut!  I made the decision to let him try out the rest of the year, get through the summer and see how the fall went after he matured a little more.

Of course it would be easier for the teacher if he is medicated.  She expressed that he has taken up more energy and time than any of her other kids with his issues and I'm sure she is right.  One of the reasons though is that all the other boys are on their meds.  At least as far as I know.  So, it makes me wonder why there is no plan for when a parent decided to wade through the symptoms?  His two main symptoms as I see them are failure to focus on many levels, and failure to know social propriety.  Those are huge issues in a classroom.

His issue yesterday (one among many) was that as he prepared a sticky note for a game where you go around and have classmates answer questions for the word on your back, he added the words "kick me" to the sticky note.  At first I thought this was going on his own back but I was understanding the game wrong.  If it had been him I actually could see the humor and thought perhaps he deserved any granted kicks.  However, it is going on another classmate so of course it's inappropriate.  He tries to be a goof at all the wrong times.  The love of a good joke and a good laugh seems to be strong in my children but knowing when and where and at what level is the problem.

So, if you think having your kids in public school will cure all their social developments...it won't.  I could not possibly have him in a more challenging environment for his issues.  Yet, we don't want him at home.  He has a whole world to learn to focus and succeed in and I we don't want him to miss out on the struggle to learn how to do this.  In the mean time, it's not easy and anyone who thinks ADHD is a joke should follow my son for a few days.  He is incredibly smart but tapping into the ability to use that seems to have so many stipulations.

As a parent you feel overwhelmed by how to discipline a child with these struggles.  You see the patterns, and you sometimes don't know there was an escalation taking place until both he and the teacher are at their wits end.  Then, you have to backtrack and unravel it all and find out what the bottom line problem is.  Some of it's simply defiant sinful child, some is how his brain does or does not work, and some of it is circumstantial or environmental.

Did I say yet I'm glad school is over?  Well I am. We have a meeting after school to try to talk some of this out with the teacher.  I'm hoping that helps.  I'm hoping we get through this.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mommy Melt Down

I've been thinking too much today.  Really.

I woke up this morning and as my alarm sounded I felt like I was on the moive "Groundhog Day".  Instead of living the same day over and over however, I felt as if I just kept living the some few seconds of morning wake up call over and over and over and over.  Like, every time I turn around, it's time to get up and somehow those few seconds make such a strong demand on my emotions that they seem more powerful than the rest of the day. They say "Get up!  Do it again!  Face it!"  I literally ask myself "how is this possible that it's morning and my alarm is going off again!!?   Did I even sleep?  What day is it?  Does it matter?  Do I live a perpetual motion of waking up!?"

Now, this blog post is not for the "together's".  It's not for people who just formulate, simplify and have it all lined up, planned out and payed forward.  It's also not for those who'd be tempted to respond to me "oh, just suck it up Alicia, we all have tough stuff, get over it."  You can leave.  I don't care for this moment what anyone thinks of the proceeding writings....it's just the view from here people.

I can't seem to find control on any level.  I can't seem to control what happens in life on a big scale, or a small one.  My schedule and driving plans (especially with one vehicle) are completely at the mercy of others.   I don't know who is coming or going at the house, who will be home, or over for dinner.  I never know if my husband will be off at a regular time or will be working over.  I don't even know what time dinner is anymore and I don't know what's for dinner.  Do you? Who's cooking?  Don't you like sandwiches? I do.

I can't control my focus.  I have to switch focus every few moments or have it demanded of me that I do even if I don't prefer it.  This also is true on a large and small scale.  On a large scale, I can't seem to focus on getting some exercise, keeping the clean clothes put away, Keeping the chore routine  working on building my business....on and on.  On a smaller one, I can't focus on what anyone is saying to me at the time.  After a plethora of "Mommy...." reports, I start to stare into their faces in a fog of non-comprehension only to hear the eventual "Are you listening to me?".  This is usually accompanied by another one asking me something in the background, or the dog needing to be told to get off the couch..."oh, I'm sorry, I AM listening (right!? I am right?! Someone please tell me that I am..), what was that?"  Only to get a frustrated exhaustion of air and "Ugh, never-mind !"  OMG...people....I'm trying!  

I can't control my energy level.  I'm working on that but all good plans of productivity lately seem to be sacrificed on the alter of "I've got to lay down!".  There are days I feel I could hit pause on life and sleep for 36 hours straight just to catch up on all levels both mental and physical.

I can't control my frustration with the fact that I can't seem to get things under control.  Yeah, that's a fun one.

So, anyhoo...I was so overwhelmed this morning the minute that alarm went off and I literally felt like I was living a skipping DVD play out of my life.  It just repeats a few seconds after the wake up call.  I walk out of my room each morning not knowing what the teen age emotional status will dictate and I'm almost always met with something that somehow is a crisis.  Usually the crisis of unknown origin hits before the coffee even reaches my lips.
I was also overwhelmed this morning at my age in all this.  Here I am, getting to the point in my life where things have been functioning long enough to start showing wear and tear both figuratively and literally.  Marriage after 16 years is great but also challenging.  It's like you finally realize, if we don't sort out some of this stuff between us, when will we?!  Patterns of "repeat" in both of us are becoming louder and louder in their obnoxious droning.  Our bodies are getting older, our responsibilities greater, and yet the demand on our time and mental health is coming from hormonal crisis "The world is ending" beings around us.  How is one supposed to assist the crazy people when one is crazy themselves?  How am I supposed to help a budding life form get things straight and know how to manage life when I'm more fuddled than ever?  I feel like the parent throwing the baby in the pool and saying "here!  swim!"  I don't know if you will, but if you start to go under we will just have to cross that bridge when we get to it.  That sounds so awful but it's so true!  You just can't cure all the life crisis for them!  You don't have the perfect solutions or advice sometimes, and you certainly don't have the stamina for the drama of it all.  You are hearing a little creature vent and moan and yell about their little life of challenges when you know inside you what REAL challenges are like.  Life, death, marriage, sacrifice, finances, getting food on the table....and then you feel guilt for not being more sensitive to their struggles.

Then hits the apathy.  I think it comes out of pure exhaustion.  The wear and tear shows like I said mentally, relationally and even practically.  Shoot, the house is falling apart too.  Things need to be fixed and you have no control over fixing them.  There is the battle of your own apathy and the frustration at the apathy of others.  Then you deal with frustration again with yourself for giving in to apathy (which get's you no where in the end) and the fact that you can't control the productivity or lack there of of others.  This starts to apply in their school and developing lives.  You can't control the stress procrastination brings them when they don't get their work done ahead of time, but you have to deal with the short temper they have toward the world for getting stressed out at the end.   You start to have less control on when they fall asleep at night, but you have to be wise and cheerful when the monster comes out of it's cage early in the morning.  You tire of saying "how can you live like this!?" when thier rooms repeatedly get trashed and only you seem to see it.  I really wish we had a home with a long hall or an upstairs and I could ignore this like most people can.  We live in a modular home where you can see into each room from the central part of the home and directly into one of them, as can all people who stop by your house....ugh.  Again, no control.  You begin to feel like a constant nag and drill Sargent, hear your own voice and hate the sound of it.

For me anyway, there seems to be no one to talk to.  I'm the only one I know with kids my age in school.  I am my own counselor with wonderful encouraging words to myself like "suck it up" and "just keep swimming, just keep swimming".  I don't know anyone else who has my view of what hills to die on with my kids either (at least who have kids this age).  I don't know anyone who has a high strung, highly stressed 15 year old female in their home who dominates all time and attention it would seem.  I start to think of talking to someone or finding a friend in the trenches and I realize that the circles of people I do know in this time of their lives (even if they get close) would want to try to give me solutions.  I know what the solutions are, I don't need measurements, I need someone to look at me and feel it, and say....you are right...it's tough.  It's like a reservoir that collects with no outlet.  There is no end, no relief, no quiet. It's really really tough.  I just want to see the face of someone else who knows that feeling, and maybe tell me a horror story of their own that will make me feel normal again.

Then I thought about the news Rick brought home last night about a man we have known for years being given two weeks to live because of cancer.  No control.  Turn a corner...bam.   I'm not saying I think it's good to have control, I'm not saying I don't recognize that God IS in control.  I'm saying that when you feel out of control on nearly ALL levels...it get's crazy.  I felt overwhelmed for this man.  I think he may even be younger than my dad was but I'm not sure....and then I remembered...

After all this swirling in my head this morning, driving my teen to High School, watching her get out and be met by her African American boyfriend (which I have no problem with but never imagined I'd journey through....), I drove off fighting tears, feeling helpless....I remembered the date....

May 17th.  Dad has been gone for 6 years.  Somehow things have been insane since he died.  My kids were young, I had control.  We home-schooled, I had control.  I was a stay at home mom, I had control.  Everyone when to bed early and we had time to ourselves, we had control.  For those of you who think like me that things will get easier as they get older, they don't.  The things just change and the biggest one is that you are less and less in control.  If I run into people somewhere down on the age scale or families void of females, I literally don't want to hear their wonderful plans of how they will structure out the teen years.  If they are through it, I may want to talk to them depending on their attitude about it.  If they are in it and their kids are sheltered, I'm so not interested.  Yes, my attitude stinks.  I have no energy for a good one on that level.  I'd be exhausted from listening to them and trying to respond kindly let alone absorb their great laid intentions for themselves, or hallelujahs for how well their kids turned out. Oh, and if you are not only raising a young brood but preserving your own food from your own garden or making your own clothing from organic fabric....please, just walk away before I have visions of hurting you.  I just want to put something other than a granola bar in my kids faces at 6:30 each morning. I just want to get to the grocery store enough to have an apple as an snack option. Please...shhhhh. Ugh..I digress completely.

Well, like I said on my facebook...no, I'll just end with that:
This year, on the anniversary of my dads death, I've thought so much on how brave he was. Facing cancer taking his vitality slowly, knowing the end result was on its way and watching it come. Damn. But life is sometimes just as hard as death when the struggles and the efforts drag. I feel I'm at a time in life when I just have to hang in there and get through. I hope to be brave like him. Face whatever God brings and be okay when the joy bubbles are not always floating around my existence. When joy feels just out of reach. One can be completely assured of truth and groaning at the same time. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Knowing Gods promises does not equal a light heart or skipping step all the time. Some days it may even hurt to smile. Embrace it all. Be brave.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Overwhelmed

Been really wanting to write lately.  No time.  Not time for anything really. On top of this I'm struggling with extreme fatigue all the time.  I'm fine while on the clock at work but all other times I'm just exhausted.  I don't know if it's a phase or not but the times that I get burst of energy and feel great all day are less and less.  I can't remember the last time I woke up feeling that great well rested feeling.  Makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong.  It's just discouraging.
Really wish I could stop working.  I can't.  We decided I'd go back to work before the economy got really tough and now there really is no option.  Especially since we got a van so that we would have a vehicle and now my job pays for that payment.  Add to that paying off debt and I'm really in this for a while.  I just miss the days I could stay home and clean and cook for the family.  When my hours dropped at the CPA I took back a Saturday at the Diner.  I've grown to hate that so much. I really need that day back with my kids. We need the extra cash though.
With that, the kids are in upper grades, especially the girls and they are busy with homework or just needing to rest most of the evening too.  I feel like we are all so tired all the time.  I feel the world is moving to fast these days.  It never seems to slow down at all.
This last weekend I flat out stayed away a lot to avoid dealing with the house and the teenage attitudes which have been thick lately. Gearing up with having to sit down and talk about that.  It's so exhausting.  I've noticed that teens go through these roller coasters of behavior.  They sometimes finally seem to "get" some things and come up revealing some maturity and some insight on their lives.  Then, we dive back down.  We are down right now and it's so low I can hardly stand it.  With my own energy being so low my focus and tolerance are practically non-existent.  So, knowing I had no energy for it or the house falling apart, we had a few functions to go to Sat and Sun and went.  The depressing point is that the stuff is still there when you get back and you are even less ready to deal with it.
I don't know how some women do it.  Those who work full time.  I'm just working part time.  I look at some women who are great mom's and work full time and I really don't think I could manage.  When do you get groceries?  I worked longer days on Fri and Mon to make up some time I lost when Emma was sick. I needed to get some groceries and I kept thinking "when?".  I have kids that all ready get home a little before Rick and I do.  I don't like leaving my kids at home any more than I have to on weeknights.  They need us there to manage their homework and healthy eating let along time as a family. I suppose those women have Saturday and Sunday off and do everything then.  With us both working Saturdays there are times when we don't make it to church on Sunday (averaging once a month now) just to have a day to recoup and be together.
I can hear the response from home school mom's, I would have had it myself. Homeschooling takes care of many of these problems, it really does.  The trouble is, it adds others for me that are overwhelming.  As the kids get older, I know they need to learn how to manage their time and be ready for the demanding schedule of life and study.  My mom worked part time when I was home schooled in my older grades and I would not do that to my kids.  I was left with my list of what to do while she was gone and I was so bored and lonely.  I don't want that for them and I have to work.  Even if I were able to quit, they each have individual reasons why school out of the home is better for them.
My conclusion is that the world is just moving too fast, and the demand is too great.  The demand for education is heavy on my kids, and the demand for money is heavy on our pocketbooks.  It's no wonder people of this day and age are starting to have more and more mental problems, we are just way over pushing ourselves.  Add to that the drama of running a house and raising kids and you have some real struggling going on.  I though toddlers were tough, emotional little women is just as tough.  I use to say I was looking forward to when I could reason with them but it would seem that the teen years is no cure for this.  You start to do all this wondering if you will make it through and if they will.
All I can think of right now is that I have to slow down when I need to and do it without guilt. I'm going to have to train myself to not have guilt when I can't get it all done or make it to every function.  Right now all we do is church, youth groups and I do a bible study.  Not making those makes me feel guilty at times especially when the impression is given that you are not prioritizing if you miss.  I don't know if that is a true impression or if it's just what I'm imagining it to be.  I don't think some people who have younger kids and simpler lives realize the schedule demands on a family in our place of life.
The other thing I do is look for that light at the end of the tunnel.  I cannot wait for Aug 1st. That will be "D" day for our family.  We will both stop working on Saturdays and it's coming just in time. In fact, I can't help but think that God moved this action by the Post Office JUST for our family lol.  I will loose a little money but we will be having two days off together.  We need this so badly to be able to keep up better and connect more.  I almost feel as if I'm holding my breath for that to get here as fast as it can.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Detoxing For Lent

Today is indeed the first day of Lent.  I've chosen to observe this one rather wholeheartedly.  Yet, not because I'm catholic or because I need a good high off some legalistic behavior.  No, I really need a Lent.  I feel toxic.  I feel my body is toxic, my mind is toxic, my emotions and my spirit as well.  There is a lot going on in my life.  There are many things I don't know what to do with as far as wisdom of how to proceed or endurance of how to handle. Over all, the world is throwing information around and opinions around, and pressures around at a speed I've never known before.  I feel it's eating away at me.  My distractions and to do lists are endless and there seems no time to reflect anymore or to refocus.  Many things I cannot eliminate but I realized that I can related some toxins.

Some of these things both physically and mentally are not bad on a rationed level.  I just feel I've drank my full of too many things literally and figuratively (or ate my full).  I've take in a lot of crap on all levels and I need a break.  I almost feel mentally that I'm so full of thoughts I can't even thing truly anymore.

One of the main things I've found toxic to my system all together lately is facebook.  I'm taking a break from it.  Not because it sucks my time because it really doesn't.  I have the app on my phone and I check it at all ready down times.  No, it's because of the addiction to see what is being shared even if I hate it.  It's coming back to something that at sometimes is really just overwhelming.  It stirs a lot of feeling and thought in my mind and I just feel on overload. It's wanting to change the world or beat the crap out of it from time to time. It's feeling judged and judging.  It's also good stuff like loving, praising, sharing ideas and I'll miss that.  For some reason though lately facebook has been making me think of the verse in 1 Thess 4 about minding your own business and making it a goal to live a quiet life.  Actually the whole chapter is pretty good.


I want to take some time to write through this Lent.  That is what I will be taking the next few weeks to do.  I want to remember and focus on Christ's sacrifice for me and really get to the bottom of my thinking on few things.  I will writing at a private locked blog and will consider whether I open it or not later.  I will still come here to share some life stuff but you won't see me on facebook.

I look forward to this time and I feel anxious for the Easter holiday.  Not so I can have my toxins back, but so that I can really come to it with a clear head, mind, and body (as much as possible).


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kid's Chores -New ZONE Plan- AKA LOVE THIS

We are starting a new program with our kids.  The big pocket chart with bucks in it worked really well for a good long time.  Now that they are older I need more help around the house and their own stuff is pretty simple. I've kind of mixed my old plan with a new one and taken on the ZONE wheel!  I'm very excited about it.  I learned about it where I learn all new amazing things, on Pinterest.  The original link is here and you can click on the part about the wheel from there.

I am a real decor lover and one thing I put too much meaning in is everything being pretty.  So the chore charts are usually far from the center of the house where I can't see them.  This may be a result of years of homeschooling when my living room and dining room had maps and alphabet everywhere and I grew tired of the clutter.  I've given back in for the sake of the kids.  I realized that out of sight is out of mind.  This hall is facing them all when they come out of their rooms and the bathroom door is right there so they have to see it.
The ZONE idea simply is that instead of the dreaded fighting or even draining mystery over who's cup is who's when it's time to pick up (you know, the "I don't know, but it's not MINE!" when you say everyone go in the room and clean up your own stuff) each family member is in charge solely of a ZONE.  Each week the zones change so you don't always have to do the same one.  Each zone must be checked am and pm.  I made it even more clear by posting a list for each zone.  Each zone also gets more attention on Saturday's.

Again, I usually have nice print outs but I did not have time yet so I just wrote them and taped it all up. 

The charts are quite simple.  They have one heading that include many things.  We have been doing morning high fives for a while and evening ones too that I never really wrote down.  Each chart is actually exactly the same.  I find that simplicity creates productivity and less stress.  At the bottom they each have an extra item.  For Caedmon here, he earns a buck toward a Skylander (a toy for the Wii game he likes) each day of school that he does not have to turn a card for.  Turning cards indicated some form of a problem in class. For the girls, they each have a cell phone.  Emma's cost $10 a month and her job to pay for it is to vacuum and clean out the van as well as wash it when I say it needs it.  She has this broken down into $2.50 a week.  She gets to choose what night to do it (unless we direct otherwise).  If she fails to do so, she pays us the $2.50 out of her chore pay.
Victoria has a monstrous $40 a month iphone bill.  That breaks down to $1.35 per day.  Since our dishwasher is broken, she has been hired.  Because she has a lot of homework I decide what level of work she will do each night.  If she does not do it, she has to pay us from her chore pay and if she goes into debt we re-possess the phone.  Trust me, she does not want to loos her phone.  It is her social connection and her Walkman.  This is highly motivating.

High Fives of morning and evening count as one bubble.  They are specified on the wall.  Morning ones are: brush teeth, do animal chore, read family passage (we require ten verses read before school), clean floors and tops (furniture tops), and make bed.  
Evening High Fives are: do homework, lay out clothes, pack backpack, brush teeth, clean floors and tops.


We have a set amount for each chart.  Ours is ten dollars.  That sounds like a lot but there is more.  Inspired by some ideas from that link, we are putting them on the 10-20-70 plan.  Tithe ten at church, save 20, and free choice for 70.  However, they will pay for all fun outings, snacks or movies, fun clothes not needed etc.  They also loose one dollar per bubble not filled in.  So, that ten can go fast if they have not done their work.  In fact, they can end up working and getting nothing.  The incentive is to do your work, or feel the pain.  We insist that circles be filled in by bed.  No catching up the next day or later on and saying "oh, I did this though!"  To prevent this pattern, I initial each at the end of the day. 

You will see also, that I have a clipboard hanging up.  This is for logging the 30 min of reading on the chore list.  There is also a screen log.  They get one hour Mon, Tue, Thur and two hours on Wed since it's min day and daddy and I are still at work.  No screens are allowed however until chores and homework is complete.  That includes reading time. 

I am taking on the deep cleaning on Monday's, my day off.  With their homework load getting bigger, I feel that just keeping up is a big enough help for me. Part of their room is putting away their laundry as well. All of our laundry is together so for now I'm doing that.  It can go onto the extra work board if I want help.  

That is another Pinterest idea I loved.  A "work for hire" board.  You can look at my "Kids" board on Pinterest for the photo. You have a board with notes as to what the job is with the money right there tempting them to earn it.  I plan to have a box on mine where they have me initial it before they get the money.  That way I check their work.  I will be having cleaning the doors with a magic eraser on mine very soon.  It's a nice way to get extra help around the house.  I'm not making them divide this money for now. It's a bonus and highly tempting that way.  

So, I'll let you know how it goes.  We are taking the idea on the link to have a family "payday".  Read for more.  It's an interesting post.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Year Of The Jar....Apparently

I was so intrigued when I saw this idea popping up on Pinterest (here is my collection of links there) .  It combines healthy, with make ahead, with appetizing.  I spent a bit of time looking up all the possibilities of jar salad combos, fruit and herb infused water, and breakfast to go in a jar.  Trust me, the ideas are amazing and endless.  I've come up with a few of my own I want to implement.  With these and Bento, lunch just got even more healthy and fun.

We are trying to get healthier in our house.  Trying to motivated the kids to move more and eat more good foods.  I'm very thankful I've been working with them since they were young to explore their palate.  They do however have their preferences and since I wanted healthy to be fun I decided to ask them all what their favorite veggies are. I realized I can be glad they have many they like. 

So, today we made our first infused water.  I did one that was all citrus.  It was orange, lemon and lime.  That seemed to be the most popular.  Second enjoyed was the raspberry lime one.  That turns a nice pink to and really holds that raspberry flavor.  The last one was cucumber which I liked but the kids did not really.  I'd like to put some watermelon or honeydew in there next time. The kids have been drinking them all evening and we had them as choices with dinner.  You can technically add a little honey or sugar but I did not mention it because I wanted them to start to gain an appreciation for the simple infused water taste.  I don't have a garden for fresh herbs but there are many combos to use those as well. As you drink these, you keep refilling the water. They can be used for many days.  It's amazing how long those flavors can seep out of the fruits.  Plus, you are getting vitamins from them.

So, our salad for tomorrows first try at this is some of the favorites they mentioned.  Dressing in the bottom (ranch for the kids, blue cheese for Rick, sundried tomato vinaigrette for me), celery and carrots, cucumber, radish (except for Emma), chopped boiled egg, bacon and then the fresh lettuce.  These will keep in the fridge I'm told for up to five days and still taste really fresh.  You do of course want to always keep the leaves on the top and the acids away from anything but tough veggies or cherry/pear tomatoes.

In order to eat this at school, I'm sending them with an empty container but hope to just send paper plates in the future that they can throw away.  The plastic jar lids, found cheap at Wal-Mart are easy for the kids to open and close.  The method I'm suggesting is that they open the jar, put the lettuce on their plate, close the jar, shake up to coat all else with dressing, and then dump that on top of the lettuce bed.  It will be fun to hear their report of how it goes. As Caedmon was going to bed tonight he asked to have some cucumber water in his cup he takes to bed instead of regular water.  As I opened the fridge he said "oh, those salads look good!"  Yep that's what I'm looking for, appreciation and excitement about these changes.  Made me feel encouraged. 

I'm also excited to try out the oatmeal yogurt ones the lady has on her site.  Anything healthy that is ready to go is fabulous. 





Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Multipurpose Room

The larger bedroom is going to Caedmon. The reasoning behind this is that the girls have less play material than he does and the other, smaller bedroom (though bigger than most traditional bedrooms) is symmetrical and therefore easier to divide for two. The girls use to be in this large room and it was one challenge after another to get a "side" for each with the shape and position of windows.
The room got a paint job from violet to grey. We already had everything else and I knew the grey would mean a clean modern look. The cubbies will have a small flat screen eventually and there will be game systems (Wii and retro Nintendo) the kereokee machine, a VHS, and a DVD player. That way the room can be used when the adults want to have a peaceful living room or when we have company the kids can do what they please. There is lots of floor space for active wii like Just Dance which the girls were having trouble having the room to play together in the living room.
There is a music and activity corner under the windows (which still need blinds installed) that includes Victoria's main Christmas present of a keyboard, and a second hand one for the other two to ping around on. The guitar is out and ready and we got a beginners guitar book for them. There are games and reading and puzzles as well.
The other area of the room is what will be a most awesome Lego center opposite a drawing desk. Caedmon loves to draw and we want a place for him to have freedom to do that. We hope to install shelves on this wall to bring in daddy's large comic book collection as well as his Hardy Boys set.
Lastly is his bed with the futon underneath to be used as a couch in the room. Oh and the Leopard Gecko lives on top of his dresser as you come through the door.
So it's his room but its to be very much enjoyed by the whole family and company. We have folded down fabric bucket chairs under the futon that can be pulled out and there is lots of room to open a card table for a board game. The three rolling chairs can be used as needed at desk stations, keyboards, or game tables.
It all seems to have worked out well.
The change took no money except to paint the walls. We all ready had everything.








Mission Makeover

Emma and Caedmon have been sharing a room for a year. At the time it made sense. The girls were not getting along and Emma and Caedmon had more in common. Funny thing happened in this last year though. Emma grew up a lot. So, we knew it was time for a change. We knew Victoria would not be excited about sharing a room again and the crazy stressful process of the switch would freak her out. So we decided to arrange for the kids to be gone for Ricks long weekend. We worked non stop to get it done. We had very little to spend so we used as much of what we had as we could. We had purchased some AMAZING beds months ago on Craigslist and were saving them at my mom's. We got such a good deal and it was a clean home that had had two grown girls. So I felt good about taking the mattress sets too.
For shelving, we took apart some very old worn out particle book shelves that Victoria had been using. I wrapped them in a beautiful black and white shelf paper. I made one side smooth and perfect and the other side had seems with more paper securing the rest. We put the brackets on the tip to hold down the paper and work as book ends. We removed the side panel of the old bookshelf, covered it and used it over the window with three brackets. We purchased storage cubbies (on sale this time of year) and I scored some awesome shabby black lamps at Ross. It's hard to see but they have chandelier crystals hanging down and when on, the inside if the lamp has a paisley pattern that shows through.
Long story short we made them walk in with eyes closed and they loved it. Victoria is not to excited about sharing but a pretty room with accessory organizers makes it hard to hate. I knew that's how it would be.
We did not get it perfected yet and Emma's side needs some finishing but here are the pictures. I'm using my phone to post so I cannot guarantee they will be in the right order. The picture frame on the old suitcase is to be a little mirror later on. It stays open and is to be used as a little vanity.
Side note: I'm so very exhausted. I'll
tell about Caed's room later. He got the bigger room but there is a reason. It's also a family/multipurpose room now.





































Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Resolve

Resolution really is not the best word. It is interesting though when you realize that part of this process is fixing something. Resolving something. Finding a resolution usually indicates there was a problem. So, in many ways it' much like the put off, and put on process that is highly effective in life I think. So, I ask myself what is the issue or the problem if you will, with resolutions? It's that we know we don't change easily. Then, we fear the self loathing of defeat and therefore, don't resolve anymore. Or at least, don't speak them for fear of ourselves. Am I really that afraid of failure!!? Failure is a guaranteed part of life. Not everything I set out to do will succeed. If God intends for it to, it will, but if it's not time yet, or it's not what's for me, then it won't. I think I need to be more okay with that. Not that I seek to fail of course. The other big problem with New Year resolutions in particular is that it's too much. One cannot muster up enough resolve in one moment, on one day, to do that very thing the next moment let alone for 365 days! So, like the pathetic person who tries to wish for three more wishes when given one, I'm approaching my resolutions with some initial ones based in these realities.So here they are. I resolved mentally first to not have too many and to not read anyone else's till I made my own.

  1. I resolve to resolve frequently.  To resolve (analyze, refocus, goal set...) monthly, weekly, and daily when possible.
  2. I resolve to not be down on myself when I fail in my resolutions or other failures, but to trust God for grace and be more patient with myself.
  3. I resolve to water a seed I sense in my heart to focus on the ONE relationship that defines me.  My relationship with God is the only one that will be all I need in this life and will carry over into the next. You know that very sad scene in scripture when God says there will people on the day of judgement who will call Him "Lord, Lord" and he will say "I do not know you".  I want the opposite of that.  I want on that day to look into the eyes of Jesus and have him say "hey, it's you! I know you!" With that I hope to have my eyes open and my heart expectant to this focus affecting the relationships around me and my own approach and response to life.
  4. I resolve to respond in prayer when I feel burdened by what others think or assume about me.  When that is a burden to me, I resolve to give it to God and move forward. 
  5. I resolve to be creative.  To use what I have more and make the best of my resources.  To also take the time for my artistic side and feed that.
  6. I resolve to focus on health for myself and my family.  To be a good example, teacher, and provider of all things healthy.  Healthy food, healthy time together, healthy outdoor exercise.  I resolve in this to take the time to plan ahead for these needs of my own and my family.  
  7. I resolve to read poetry again.
  8. I resolve to end my day with a book and a lamp rather than an electronic device.  I therefore resolve to put my phone down, and shut my computer off at least a half hour before going to sleep.  I resolve to have my children do the same and not be worn down by the whining I hear about it.  
  9. I resolve to pray for others.  God is pretty specific when He puts people on my heart.  I've noticed this in my life.  I don't know if it's a spiritual gift to have this burden for a few people at a time but I do.  It's like a weight on me and very strong.  I need to make sure to pray for them.  
  10. I resolve to be focused in finances and the goals we are setting to get out of debt.  I'm not great at this.  It's very much like my struggle to loose weight.  I know it's going to take daily focus. 
  11. I resolve to be a better listener and not assume I know what people are thinking or motivated by.  I guess that really is a resolution to more humility in my life.  

So out of the millions of ways I can kick my self...these are just the top ones.  Perhaps the ones I feel for now, trickle down into all other serious areas in my life.  That is really what resolving is right, figuring out where the important things start.  

Happy New Year to you all!