Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Rent Goes Up

Today, my landlord showed up at the front door, to personally hand me a notice that our rent will increase $100 a month starting in September. At the time, I was sweeping the dirt off the back patio, Mr. M was running around nude, Professor X was in his swim shorts, and Princess O was lolling about in her t-shirt and chonies. In other words, not a great time. But, hey, at least it's only a hundred dollars. Dh is overdue for a raise at work anyway, so I know we can swing it. The only issue is, according to dh, is whether this house is worth the new rent or not.

When I peruse the Pennysaver, as I always do, I always take note of the houses for rent column. We have a very good deal. While our family is outgrowing the house, I know there is no way we would be able to afford a place we all fit in, including the dog, for a cheaper or even an equal amount of what we pay. That being said, what do we do? Obviously, I think we should make this house be a $1000 a month house. A new project, hee hee hee!

We are on the cusp of a new unschooling year. We don't do formal school during the summer, but we do start a loosely structured schedule in the fall. This gives me plenty of time to get this house organized, taking advantage of every square inch, inside and out.

To start with, I have a toddler. My goal is to get the backyard and patio to serve as a playroom for him while I work with the older kids. We have room for a sandbox (the wading pool filled with sand), a water table, all the Little People houses/castles/farms, and a big table for painting, play-doh, clay, whatever. My goal is to have all of us outdoors as much as possible. I plan to lay some green outdoor material to cover the patio, lessening the effect of the dirt. We can cut back the overgrown grass, and lay sod over the rest of the area. I have been slowly working on this all summer, but got discouraged when dh offered no help, then let the grass grow back over all my efforts. I think maybe he will lend a hand, or at least open his wallet to complete the project now.

Inside the house, we can finally lay the new vinyl flooring in the kitchen. I can clear out every nook and cranny of our bedroom that has accumulated unused magazines, junk, and lost items. We can organize the kitchen better with a rack of shelving along one wall. Finally, the garage can be cleared out and maybe used as less a house for mice, and more a room for human use.

Oh yeah, I'm getting excited. Maybe I will take some photos to post as before-and-after comparisons. Already today, I moved the kids' huge Little Tykes kitchen out of their room and onto the patio. I see great potential for drive-thru and restaurant imaginative play.

So, once again, the Lord has used something that is not good, the raising of the rent, to motivate me to something better, a house worth the higher rent.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Went, But I Didn't Stay

Camp sucked. That's the easiest way to put it. The natural surroundings were beautiful, the scent of pine filled the car as I climbed in altitude, but the unnatural surroundings fell far short of what the brochure promised. The lesson learned: visit any place we plan to send out kids, especially for an overnight trip.

To begin with, I should state, I have a severe phobia about bears. When I am feeling stressed in my life, I have nightmares about bears. Right before I left for camp, in my dream, a bear got me for the first time. I could feel his hot body and fur pressing into my face even in my dream. So, that being said, when I found out that the camp counselors were aware of at least three bears that visit the grounds at night, I was not a happy camper. Add to that the fact that the bathrooms are outside, about 50 feet away from the cabins, I was definitely getting concerned. Then, at the staff cook-out, the head counselor announces we need to be extra aware of our surroundings during hikes due a mountain lion stalking the area during the day. She described this animal as "very aggressive and bold". Apparently it had attacked some man's goat right in front of a group of people during the day a couple weeks ago. This issue was never indicated in the brochure, or anywhere on their website. Now, yes, my dh did point out to me that the bears at least should be common sense. Yes, I agree. BUT, is it still common sense to assume that my child will have to venture out, in the dark, just to pee or brush his teeth when these bears may be prowling the site? Or, that I would have to accompany the group of 2nd grade girls I was in charge of, putting myself in the role of protector, into the darkness so they can shower or brush? No. Indoor bathrooms in the cabins, that's common sense when there is a bear issue outside.

My next issue with this camp is that the activities offered in the brochure do not state any age requirement. However, upon arriving at camp, I realized that archery and canoeing, two things my son was extremely excited to do, would not be available to him since he is not 12 years old. Not that I wanted him canoeing anyway when I found out that the lake they go canoeing is too polluted for swimming. I was in total disbelief that this camp would take kids out onto a polluted body of water, especially considering the rates they charge!

If those reasons aren't enough, here is another one. This camp is open all summer. They do not restock much, intending to use up the supplies by the end of summer. The week my son was going was the last week. Camp ended on Thursday, the camp had to be closed by Saturday. When I saw the empty shelves and junky offerings in the camp store, I was appalled. When I heard that the only craft being offered was wood painting, I was disappointed. The only two activities my son would have been allowed to do were craft and swim lessons. He can paint wood at home. All the really great crafts were already all used up. They were at the end of the food supply. The menu was hodge-podge leftovers and just-use-it stuff.

When I was in my bunk Saturday night, I was so angry. Angry at my church for promoting this camp when obviously no one has really been there. Angry at the camp for being so shoddy. Angry at myself for not praying about it enough, or really thinking it through enough, before committing myself and my son, and the rest of my family, to a week of upheaval. I wrestled, I cried, I came to the conclusion I was NOT going to stay. I was NOT going to expose my son to his first camp experience at this place. So, I set my alarm for as early as I could, stayed a restless night tossing in and out of sleep, then awoke, packed my things, and got the heck out of there.

Of course I told the head counselor I was leaving. I blamed it on my mother being too ill to watch my children all week. I found out later that my mother did feel stressed and overwhelmed by having to work VBS and watch the kids all week. So, maybe it wasn't such a bad lie, although I know all lies are bad. There were more than enough people to cover my absence. I felt guilty, then I felt angry, then I felt such relief. 

I keep waiting to hear something terrible happened up there this week. Of course there was the earthquake. And my daughter has been diagnosed with a serious bladder infection. She has been vomiting and running a fever since Tuesday morning. So, I was needed here more than there. Thankfully, our check still hadn't cleared, so we put a stop payment on it. Yes!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Day Closer to Camp

I'm having second thoughts about going to camp. That's normal though, right? I am feeling like I'm going to miss my other two kiddos and my hubby so much I'm wondering if it will be worth it. I'm missing dh's next show, too. Bummer. I know it's a great opportunity for Professor X to get closer to the Lord and have some other godly examples in his life. But, I have been looking over the Bible study guide and thinking ahead about the group of 2nd-4th grade girls I will be leading. I just hope that when they are homesick and crying that I won't be feeling so much the same way that I will be no comfort at all. I made some "good camper" type certificates today and decorated them with glitter glue. I'm picking up some sticker and small prizes for them, too. Hopefully it will be a great time. But, I told dh, if anyone even says they think they saw a bear, I'm grabbing the Professor and hightailing it outta there!

As for packing and everything, all will be done tomorrow. It's tough when payday is a few days away from when I really need to do things. So tomorrow is packing, errands, housework, and family time. Sigh. Sometimes, when one of us is going away, the feeling of squeezing in some quality time is less heart-felt than burden-guilt-felt. You know?

Today was a great day at home. Professor X was off at the Aquarium. I spent the day with Princess O and Mr. M just coloring, making corn dogs with mac and cheese for lunch, watching Veggie Tales, and topped it all off with a family trip to Downtown Disney so Princess O could spend the last of her birthday money at BABW. She bought a puppy and some dog toys to go with her new Husky. But her top buy was the quilted dog house. She's been playing with it all night. Oh, I almost forgot. She bought a pair of roller skates, too. Of course, technically, she needs two pairs for the dog, but we told her to buy another pair next time. Okay, she said, when I buy her sunglasses, too. I can see the obsession has taken hold. This will be her Star Wars.

I tried one of those new Sorbettos, mango, on the way home. A Starbucks stop is a given when we come home from anywhere at night, and when we leave for anywhere in the morning. Anyway, a sorbetto is basically a yogurt drink, like a smoothie. For the price, it wasn't worth it. The size is smaller than a tall but just as expensive. I'll stick to the Yoplait drinks at the grocery store.

I'm off to make a to-do list so I won't forget anything I need to do, and to clear my brain so I can sleep. Tomorrow I will blog about my bear dream.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Interesting Comments

First, I want to shout it from the hilltops: I get to register for a creative writing class at city college tomorrow!!!! I finally went down and reactivated my file. It was one of those things you think will take a long time, but is accomplished in under ten minutes, then you wonder why you waited so long to do it. So, it's done.

I told DH it was very cool and exciting to be on the campus again, as a student. He wanted to know if I felt young again. Ha! I was pulling three kids behind me and getting stared at by every single 20-something that was hanging out. When Mr. M started throwing a borderline fit while we left the Admissions building, I felt like the sweatiest, oldest, frumpiest person on that whole campus. Ah well, the kids won't come to class with me. And this book inside me is just bursting to get out. Yay for me!

I had all three kids with me and I showed them around the campus. They loved all the wild rabbits that live there. I had some chips with me for a snack, and while the kids were eating them, one very friendly rabbit came over and actually sat up on his hind legs as if he were begging for a chip. The upright position scared Mr. M who climbed onto me immediately, and even Princess O was very wary, but the Professor just dropped a chip on the ground and we laughed when we heard the rabbit crunching it. Good memory.

Another detail from the camp preparation checklist taken care of: Professor X's shot records. Took all of two minutes. Thank God. The last place I wanted to be today was in the pediatrics waiting room!

We also dropped off a few bags of clothes, toys, and misc items from around the house, at the local AmVets thrift store. That was less than a minute, and I was the only one who got out of the car.

So, at church tonight, when asked, "What did you do today?" what does Professor X say?

"We went to the thrift store and returned some stuff."

I think it's so funny that of everything we did today, he comments on that alone. I mean, he even unlocked Darth Maul on his DS, a big accomplishment for the Lego Star Wars game, but he didn't mention that!

Okay, now for the funny comments.

On the way home from church tonight, I was asking Professor X what his class teacher looked like. This was our conversation.

Mom: "Did your teacher have long, dark, curly hair?"

Prof X: "Yeah, and she had glasses and lipstick, too."

Mom: (thinking it's funny to hear what he notices) "Oh."

Mr M: (wanting to describe his teacher, too) "And she had yegs, Mom."

Mom: "Oh, she had legs, too?"

Mr M: "Yes, and hands, too, Mom."

Mom: "Right, yes, hands are important."

This comment was made by Professor X during a conversation after we got home. He was telling DH that he could see the words people were going to say before they said them.

DH: "How can you see the words?"

Professor X: "When they open their mouth to talk, I look down into their stomach, and I can see the words before they come out."


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another Day

Not much to report today. I'll just hit the highlights.

Professor X visited the museum with the church and was gone all day. He had a good time and bought a stegosaurus 4-D puzzle which kept him occupied for almost an hour after he came home. The puzzle also provided fresh fodder for Mr M to bother the professor with by taking it, throwing pieces, all that fun stuff. Then dh was messing with it after the kids were in bed, and lost a piece that I had to help him find. Good times.

Princess O chose to buy a Barbie camera with her birthday money. We had a struggle with the second roll of film, but dh got it working just fine. I imagine her pictures will be very amusing. She laid on the table with her new husky from BABW and snapped close-ups. She thought it would get a picture of the both of them, but I have a strong suspicion it will be a portrait of her nostrils only.

Mr. M was a pill all day. Definitely a 2yo and letting the world know, or at least all the shoppers at Target. He followed me reluctantly through the store once we finished looking at the toys. He alternated crying and simply whining, dragged his feet, and eventually sat on the floor when we made it to the register. Mom was not happy, and I made sure he knew it when we got back to the van. The day didn't get much better from there. He spent some time outside with dh, alone by the gate. Dh was trying to light some old coals to grill the steaks I had. He finally came in and told me it wasn't working, at which point I glance outside and see Mr. M looking at some brown stuff on his finger. I assumed it was dog poop, but it turned out to be his own poop. Nice.

As for me, my highlight was finally getting all my previous writing formatted and centrally located on my laptop. Yay! Oh, and figuring out how to upload photos to this blog. Yay! The rest of the evening I spent persuing my Writer's Market, highlighting all the literary agents located in this area. Quite a few, to my surprise. Tomorrow I head out, with the kids, to check into the city college offerings for creative writing.

Oh, and I got the counselor packet for camp next week. Yikes. Lots more lesson prep than I had anticipated. Another mom at church was asking me about going up. Maybe I won't be driving alone after all. Not a bad deal if she drives and I don't have to pay for gas. Either way, my anxiety level about being a counselor is definitely growing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Reverse To Do List

Today I was trying something new. I am a listmaker. I feel unfocused without a daily to do list. Lately though, my list has seemed to fall short of what I actually do all day. It's one thing to list "laundry", and another thing to actually finish ten or more loads of laundry, fold, and put the clothes away. See? I could be putting so much more on the list and feeling more satisfaction a the end of the day. Today I decided to list everything AFTER I did it. Behold, my reverse to do list. Pics coming soon.

Up at 8:30am, the following was accomplished before noon, basically in this order:
  • Emptied wading pool (I love being outside so early in the day and feeling the freshness of the air, the pool was stagnant for a few days so it needed to be dumped out.)
  • Started the laundry (I kept an ongoing tally of how many loads I did, final count was nine loads)
  • Put Mr. M on the toilet for potty training (another ongoing tally that I finally stopped at five times before noon; it probably hits 20 or more in a day - a lot of interrupted time)
  • Empty the dishwasher (for the remainder of this blog, my beloved dishwasher will be referred to as DW, because that is it's name in our family)
  • Load DW (running it tonight due to electric company peak hours)
  • Handwash dishes (bowls that won't fit in DW, cupcake holders from party)
  • Vacuum front room (including under the couch with the attachment)
  • Folding laundry (final count of ongoing tally - 10 loads, one was already in the basket from before)
  • Set up kids on the computer to check out bearville (discovered, after a lengthy registration, the main activity is chatting, completely inappropriate for a 5 and 6 yo, switched to build a bear games instead)
  • Picked up poop from dog in backyard
  • Put away misc. birthday party items still laying around (gift bags, water bottles, etc.)

In between all this, I must note, more than one child was given a time out for bickering, bad attitudes, general mean tone of voice, which set a theme leading to all of them having to lay down for nap time. Sigh. Bickering is a problem here lately.

For lunch, Top Ramen flavor of choice while watching Scholastic's "Where the Wild Things Are". I really enjoy those dvds. I am always the one preferring a book, but these videos are excellent, especially the Carole King music. After lunch, we read 4 library books before retiring to beds and reading half a chapter of Hello, Miss Piggle-Wiggle. The kids don't seem to enjoy these stories as much as I do.

After a short nap myself, due to being up late reading and writing lately (yay for me!) this was the rest of my day:

  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Mop kitchen floor (with my new Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Mop - it was ok, it's a mop)
  • Kids put away their own clothes (yay!)
  • Ate my lunch (Luna bar, peanut butter cookie flavor - that didn't taste like a pb cookie at all and if it wasn't for weight purposes, I would never eat another one)
  • Checked my email (declined two requests from people - learning to say no and feel good about it is a new accomplishment for me, and it feels great)
  • Made dinner (rice with lumpia for me and dh, rice with popcorn fish for kids - everyone ate but was hungry again later)
  • Washed Prof X hair, washed my own hair, went to Supercuts for pre-camp haircuts (his looks great, definitely a no-fuss, no-brush camp haircut; once again, the stylist tried to tell me to try something new on my curls, "mousse will only dry your hair out", but by the time I got home, the KMS CurlUp she put in my hair had made my hair sticky and clumpy, and the rest frizzed out MAJORLY)
  • Put away my own clothes
  • Reviewed the camp packing list (mild panic attack)
  • Made a to-do list for tomorrow (Prof X on trip to museum, Princess O to Target to spend bday money)

So, I think I may have to do this reverse list more often. I got so much done and I think it makes a difference when I list every single thing. I got a really great picture of exactly how much I do all day. Yeah.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

This was my weekend

Whenever a parent decides to have a "small party" for one of their children, it inevitably still costs not a "small" amount of money. We invited about 12 little girls to a wading pool, served only fruit and cupcakes with water bottles, handed out candy in cups with a small bear from Oriental Trading, and still spent a lot. The balloons, food, water, and gifts from us were worth it though. It was Princess O's 5th birthday, and she chose a Build a Bear theme. We got her ears pierced, dad's decision, and treated her, her brother, and her best friend to a trip to Build a Bear. All that was on Saturday.

Friday was spent in preparation for the "small party". Errands were run, fruit was prepped, cupcakes were made. The cupcakes turned out good, in spite of my black thumb in the kitchen. Princess O chose a pink frosted cupcake with three gummy bears on top sitting under a paper umbrella. Totally cute, and everyone loved them. Definitely worth the effort. Sounds easy, I know, but again, black thumb.

Sunday, ahh, yes, today was awesome. It was my first Sunday not singing with the worship band at church. I got to sleep in, the kids got to sleep in. We attended one service. No interruptions to pull the kids out for breakfast during first service after worship was over. No rushing to get everyone in before a certain time. And, it's so funny to me, that anyone noticed, but I sure got a couple funny looks. At my church, no one ever leaves leadership unless something horrible happens and they have to leave. Like, adultery, or they reveal some other awful thing they have been doing. No, for me, it's a personal choice. I want to focus on my writing. I want my time to be my own. I felt the Lord whisper into my heart that my season for singing was over. So, it's over. And it was so awesome to wear jeans and not worry about how I looked. If I want to wear my jean skirt, I can! I have been in some type of leadership at my church for the past 12 years!! I have always tried to maintain a modest appearance that didn't draw attention to myself. No more! Nose piercing? Yes! Another tattoo in a visible place? Yes!

My husband made the comment today, as we were discussing his image as a musician, that he wished someone would have told him to keep his personal style as a new Christian. Our church gives the impression that tattoos are wrong, piercings are wrong, but my dh is an individual with creative taste that he has been oppressing. Cartilage piercing? Yes! Earrings again? Yes! Eyebrow piercing again? I say yes, he's unsure.

I feel like a new season of really discovering more about my self is beginning. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm free at last!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Day Today - so far

Today was a trip day for my oldest son, Professor X. He has been going with our church on outings almost every week for the past month. He's only six, but these trips have been a great time for him to make new friends and be away from home a bit, away from sibs and mom. I make sure he has his trusty Firefly, for my own peace of mind, and I think for his, too. This morning was a flurry of housework as we all worked towards the goal of coming home to a clean house.

I surprised myself by accomplishing vacuuming both rooms that sorely needed it, unloading and loading the dishwasher to run while we're gone, and goading the kids to clean their own room, the front room, and put their clothes away. I also talked to my sister in Washington, put away the air-dried clothes, and changed out a load of laundry. All this before 10:30am, in spite of the fact I was up past midnight. You may not be impressed, but I am!

We hit the road, dropping off Professor X, and pressing on to get all birthday party preparation shopping done. With me were Princess O, whose birthday party is this weekend, and Mr. Max, who is great company even though he is not fully potty-trained. We went to the party store and ordered a big bunch of balloons. I hate balloons, and Princess O is saying she hates balloons. I don't think she really does, so I am trying to get her to enjoy some this weekend.

We stopped for lunch at Chik-Fil-A. It's the cleanest, most friendly "good food quickly" stop in this area. Mr. M was as good as he could be, mostly eating french fries and fruit, dancing to Robert Palmer's "Get It On". I made a conscious effort to relax, not rush the kids, and have some good conversation with Princess O. Her stutter has returned, along with some facial efforts at getting the words out. I'm not sure if this is developmental, or stuck for good. We'll see how long it lasts this time. The only harsh moment was when we were getting up and Mr. M blasted out the door without us, much to my surprise. I didn't think he could open it. But he did. And so, once again, I got the "bad mom" stares from the other patrons who were mostly on break from work. "Must be nice to get a break every day!" I shouted. Okay, I didn't shout it, but I wanted to.

We then breezed through Target, picking up Funfetti cupcake mix and gummi bears for the cupcakes. We bought some pixie glitter at the cake supply store. Now we are home. The kids are napping for a bit, then getting into our small inflatable pool, then off to pick up the Professor after that. I'm setting my sights on dinner, unsure of what lies ahead there. Then a night of finishing laundry, more writing, and a cozy evening at home playing Feed the Kitty. Ciao!

Mamma Me-a

The only way to let myself really express my thoughts on this blog is to completely accept the fact of who I am and my season of life. I am a mom. I have three children under the age of seven. I have been married to my husband for ten years. We're a Christian unschooling family. I am a writer.

My blog on myspace has been an ongoing tale of the joys and laughs watching and listening to my children as they grow. My kids are hilarious! I know that I have goofball tendencies, and so does my creative musician husband, so these kids are full of goofs. And I appreciate the way they feel free to just be their goofy self, not bending to peers or leaving things behind to please someone else.

This blog, one that is for my free writing, away from the eyes of friends and relatives, will just have to morph with me as I become the writer-wife-mom I was made to be.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Waiting for my muse

So, here we are. Finally, I have my own laptop, and my vision of working at night, next to my dh, while the dks are asleep, is a reality. Sooo, after perusing my brand-new Writer's Market Deluxe, I am stalled out, feeling overwhelmed.

There are so many options to writing. Do I go into freelance while I'm working on my books? Should I focus on some short story ideas? As long as I'm writing everything down manually, aka pad and pen, I think I'm moving forward somewhat.

I'm considering setting some daily writing goals. A good idea, I think, but I always have this wild factor of the dks. I guess that's why I started this blog. To get something going, to get something out. Tonight I linked to some interesting-looking blogs, some places to go for inspiration or relation. I vowed to not post about my daily life here, just thoughts on writing, and random thoughts I have that I don't really share with anyone else. Like, political occurrences, celebrity shenanigans, movie reviews, books I've read and basically whatever free flowing writing I can type out.

So there.