Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Proud Momma

Princess D played her first Volleyball game ever tonight... made her volleyball-lovin' Momma SO proud!! She started practice a couple weeks ago, and couldn't get a serve over the net to save her life. Matter of fact even passing the ball was quite a challenge - those arms kept wanting to bend at the elbows and that little head kept wanting to turn away whenever the ball flew her direction. I've spent quite a bit of my time working with this team (I'm NOT the coach, just the mascot! haha!) and being able to see them all improve so much has been a blast!

You couldn't tell this girl didn't know how to serve a ball last week. Now, this girl's got game! She's got her first win under her belt, and a big smile on her sleeping face by now.

Not to be outdone... her older sister's game started an hour and a half later, in another town a half hour away. (Yeah, I'm crazy and I love to drive all over tarnation). I missed the first few minutes because I was cheering on a bunch of 6th Graders, but I got to see this determined little gal of mine hit FOURTEEN serves in a row! It was unreal. The opposing crowd started to look a bit embarrassed after about point number nine... then other coach called a time out to rattle our team up a bit, as well as announcing a few impromptu substitutions, but it didn't seem to phase 'em much.

Another win! Way to go girls. I'm proud of ya!

And in other news... I'm about THE WORST sports photographer ever. I'm almost sorry I even tried, but now I know to stick with things that hold still until I can get a brain transplant. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bribing the Kids is History

Something happened to me recently. Maybe it was that brawl with my husband about doing chores. You know, the typical male/female war about who's responsible for what when running a household? When we got married, I asked what his expectations were of me. He said, "I just want you to do what makes you happy because I love you." So, I've pretty much stuck with his line of thinking these past seven years or so, and let me tell ya, the man has changed! He is no longer ok with me just laying around eating bon-bons and twittering. I'm not sure what his problem is, but now he has expectations. I don't know where they came from and I don't like em!

Regardless of my feelings, I am a stay at home Mom now, and the guy thinks that my position involves a whole slew of "jobs" that I was not previously aware of. *Looks around* Nobody believes me when I say that. Hmph! So I've got this mental list of JOBS (that if I were to ever write them down, I'd never finish!) and it sometimes overwhelms me, to be honest with ya. Things like floors, walls, sheets, brooms, laundry, homework and dinner all tend to get lumped into one pile, and I just pick from whatever crawls out the top and looks most demanding. Or menacing. You decide.

A few days ago, I sat down with my trusty Excel program and whipped out charts for each of the four kids that live here, my husband, myself and the dog. (Don't kid yourself, it took hours) Some of the jobs are things I'm expected to have done - so I passed the joy along to my kids. (Oh come on, kids can wash their own sheets!) Some of the things are everyday stuff like BRUSH YOUR STINKIN TEETH! And then, knowing full well that the dog does a terrible job washing sheets, and yet a moderately good job at tearing apart pillows, I scratched his name off the list right away.

The kids lists are finished. They are a constant work in progress though, and I can't emphasize how much I stress the word FLEXIBLE (to myself and to them). My dear husband and I had grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of direction and the lack of motivation that our kids drove around with every day (not that they drive cars, thank goodness). We are hoping that this will solve some problems and make communication and relationships a bit smoother around these parts. I'm quickly learning, that my own list consists of doing my stuff while the kids are at school, and then following them around the whole time they are home to make sure they're getting through their lists. It's ok, it will be a habit soon, right? Right??

The lists are written in half hour increments. From the time they wake up, to the time they go to sleep, they have something they should be doing. These lists are something I would have cringed at if my Mother had shoved one to me, but strangely, my kids are not all that opposed. The other weird phenomena, is that they aren't begging for cash, or a treat, or any sort of reward, they are just moving down the list and checking things off as they go. I think their favorite part is when I actually schedule in FREE time because it means I'll leave them alone for at least an hour a day. I gotta tell you, it's a bonus for me too, because they are more inclined to move along the list faster just to get a longer free time. If they don't get through their basic chores, it cuts into free time. No bribing and no arguing, just natural consequences. It's a beautiful thing.

I have this huge problem with paying my kids for doing their chores. I'm not sure what it is exactly that bugs me, but I guess I'd get offended if someone wanted to pay me for staying home with my children. It's not that I wouldn't TAKE the money (Oooh, don't get me wrong there!) but I do it because it's the job God gave me. I am a part of this family, it's my responsibility as a family member to care for others in our "unit". I hope our kids grow up with that feeling too, instead of, "I am an employee of this family, and I will work when I get paid and I will protest and picket outside in the front yard when I do not get paid enough!"

Allowance is a tricky topic around here too. I pretty much just give the kids an allowance each month and I don't make a huge deal of it. I do it so they will learn how to manage funds, and to make them feel a sense of responsibility for paying for things that they want or need that are not in my budget (that I'd have to figure out how to pay for anyway). When we went on our cheap-o vacation last month, each kid pitched in fifty bucks. Of course I had to do a little convincing to get them to voluntarily fork it over, but they got the picture. We all helped with our family vacation. (Good thing too, since our vacation budget got stabbed multiple times by the new tires we had to buy along the way).

Our kids don't get a large allowance. I've read what the going rates are, and our family is far below poverty rates as far as weekly allowance goes. I'm more like the MONTHLY allowance type, and I move it straight into their savings accounts so no cash gets lost or spent on a whim. Just yesterday, my oldest came to me needing a chunk of cash for some volleyball gear that I couldn't squeeze out of our budget, so she got to pull it from her own account. Boy, do I like that! And let me tell ya, she'll treat those belongings a little nicer too since it was her own money that bought them.

Overall, I'm not ok with just throwing money at my kids. I do expect that they will do chores because they are asked to, and not with the expectation of a paycheck. On the other hand, I expect that they will pay me if I have to do their chores for them, and I really expect that they will tithe as well as save for the future.

Now on the other hand REWARDS are fair game. This morning, I slipped into my youngest son's lunch a mini-bite-sized pack of the smallest chocolate cakes known to man, all the while announcing (to the whole household) that he was getting cake in his lunch today because he was the only one to get his entire list finished yesterday. Boy was HE excited! And all I heard from the other kids was, "What?? CAKE??" and then the wheels started turning in their minds and I didn't have to say a word.

Halleluiah. Bribing the kids is history. (Well it is in MY dreams anyway)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I figured I'd better get on here and write something before even more history came and went and I was left to write a book. I'm in no mood to write a book, sorry.

I've was absent for most of the last month because:

My laptop died
My camera died
My cell phone had issues
I went on a vacation to Idaho
Then school started - a week earlier than we were prepared for.

Now, I have been able to replace my phone. I caved in and let my husband talk me into an iPhone. He liked it so much that he got one too. The applications are what sold me. (The free ones anyway, I'm so dang cheap). I now have an app to keep track of my spending, an app to divy up my kids' allowance and keep track of what they owe me, an app to use any instant message available to mankind, an app for Facebook, apps to find the closest park, campground or fast food restaurant nearest to me, an app to keep bugs away, and even an app to read my bible whenever I want. Now... that could be part of the reason for my lack of blogs. It took a long time to set up that stuff! But in all reality, it's hard to blog on a cell phone no matter how snazzy it is. Well that, and I still don't have a computer.

I got my camera replaced though. Great news, I finally got that Digital SLR I've always been dreaming of. Well, it's a "starter" version, but I LOVE IT. The even better news is that I don't have to pay for it for 18 months. (Argh! Credit was my last choice, but I was going to die and my husband thought it was the only way to revive me without mouth to mouth resuscitation which would give him cooties) Anyway, the laptop is having to wait because now I'm last in line. My husband's computer still functions (see, I'm using it the second he left it for a minute) and my kids still need one for their homework, so I'm last. MOM IS LAST! That's no newsflash really. It's just normal stuff.

I think I'll try posting short blogs with my phone. But if my fingers fall off, as they undoubtedly will when I get long-winded, just check in and leave a get well card or something.

Did I mention that I went on vacation to Idaho? I'm not sure why they call it a vacation. It's more like "many days squashed together with so-called-adventures that are stressful and make you pull your hair out". But it's all good. I came back alive, and so did my kids and my husband. Barely.

We really did have a lot of fun with my in-laws, (even though my sweet sister-in-law ended up on bedrest for the entire duration, the poor thing!), with old friends, and with each other. Now I'm out of words, so I'll just show some pictures of our day at the lake, and get back to taking care of my daughter. She had oral surgery today, which went smoothly I might add, and is in need of more attention than usual.

Enjoy! I miss you blog land friends, but I'm never too far off! (Which means I read posts on my phone, but I just don't have the fingertips left to post comments on all of them!)

My youngest

My niece and her curly locks of loveliness

My son and his cousin

My niece again (because I couldn't stop taking pictures of her in all her cuteness)

Nephew - Mr Photogenic (gets it from his mother)
My nephew from hubby's side of the family
The youngest nephew of the bunch
Oh fine... I'll just throw a few more at ya.
You know you want one.

Oh yes, she's irresistable. Sorry no more pics of my OWN dadgum kids - but they're ok with that (I think.)

Thanks. Sorry it was a bit much, but there's never too much of a good thing, right? Cut me some slack already.

Les Schwab Road Tour

We've named our recent vacation the "Les Schwab Road Tour". For those of you unfamiliar with the name "Les Schwab", it's the name of a rather large chain of Tire centers in the Western States. My children are now traumatized everytime we drive by one. We used the services of FOUR of them just on the way TO Idaho. Now if you're already a Facebook friend, you saw frequent updates of our "adventures". Sorry if it's a repeat, but here's what happened (in a nutshell).

We plan trip weeks in advance
We plan to leave at 9 a.m. to pick up step-daughter in Portland on the way by 10
We plan to be at our campground by 4 pm at the latest
We leave house by11
Pick up step-daughter by one(ish)
We eat Lunch at Multnomah Falls (beautiful!)
We drive a couple more hours
Weather report from the car: 103 degrees
Shred a tire on the travel trailer in the middle of nowhere
Dance around the trailer wondering what on earth to do
Pull off spare tire and thank Jesus that it's a decent spare
Thank Jesus profusely for sending a random Les Schwab employee by at just the right time
(Thank you Les Schwab guy from The Dalles, Oregon!)
Take pictures of Les Schwab employee changing our stubborn tire
Hit the road again and drive another half hour
Shred another tire on the opposite side of the trailer
Pray for forgiveness
Call roadside assistance and find out they can only help you if you have prepared yourself with two spare tires and that they can't do any assisting
Call the next closest Les Schwab and find out they'll have someone come in after hours to help us if we hurry and get there
Park in a really strange fashion across the ditch, so as to level the trailer
Smack off fire ants from ankles
Pick tumbleweed bits out of bottoms of feet
Unhook the trailer
Go crazy from the biting flies
Say huge prayers that God will protect our belongings while we drive off, with only one of the two doors locked on the trailer because nobody knows where the key went
Get to Les Schwab in Hermiston, call pager that the manager left us a number for and wait, for what seems like forever
Les Schwab guy finally shows up and takes a full HOUR just to find the right price for our tire
Watch as the sun sets, and picture our trailer in flames alongside the highway in my mind
Pay for tire
Feed kids at a Subway restaurant inside a Walmart while my husband shops for a large jack
Visit Gas station while scarfing sandwich
Drive the hour back to our trailer, nervous as heck that we'll even still have a trailer when we get there
Thank Jesus that our trailer was left untouched
Scan for rattlesnakes on the rocks
Hook up trailer
Beat off fireants from ankles again
Yell at kids to stop fighting and to stay in the vehicle for the love of Pete
Assist tire change
Get on the road again by 10:30 pm
Drive gingerly and with much tension
Arrive at campground sometime really late
Set up camp and get this nagging feeling that one of the tires looks low on air
Argue over who forgot to pack the tent pegs
Visit the showers and get rid of the dust and fire ant guts
Asleep at 2 a.m.

A couple days later...
Wake up, load up, and get out of town
Drive to nearest Les Schwab store in La Grande, Oregon and ask for a trailer tire
Les Schwab guy inspects our tires and points out that they have no trailer tires in stock, but that we're sporting a shiny metal screw in one of our 2 remaining tires. It's the suspicious tire from the night before, of course.
Repair tire, make calls to next Les Schwab store, hit the road again.
Eat something somewhere
Arrive at Les Schwab store in Baker City, Oregon and ask for a trailer tire
New tire in place, spare tire packed back up and we hit the road again grateful to be MOST of the way to Idaho. Everything after that is pretty much a blur... or another blog post anyway :)