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Monday, September 12, 2022

Game Day 2022 - Epic Failure

 Game Day was an epic failure, or so I'm inclined to believe based on the moaning and groaning of #2.

"Mummy", he cried, in a British accent, and while we're not British, it sounds more amusing in my head this way.  "Game day was not great", pauses, at a loss for words to explain what an epic failure he believes the day to be without actually coming out and saying it.  "We", dramatic pause, "only got, TWO hours of phone time".  Caught up in his grief and disappointment, he doesn't notice the warning signs of a parent who is becoming annoyed with his ungrateful surmisings.  He continues to sulk as the mother stares him down whilst preparing dinner.

"You had two hours of phone time", she declares, "one more than on a normal school day, continue complaining and we will simply cancel video game day next year".  Face pained, but unwilling to anger the mother further, he sculks away, undeterred from his belief that he should have been allowed to play his phone until his eyeballs fell out, or bedtime, whichever came first.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Voraciously Reading Children

I don't read to my kids.  One time, I tried, I got 3/4 of the way through my favorite book as a kid, "Treasures of the Snow", when the oldest was in grade school and the youngest a baby.  I don't think anyone retained anything but it haunts me that I never finished that book with my kids.  After a time, it was impossible to go back without starting over.  I finally realized, I'm not meant to read to my kids.

I see other parents rapturously extoling the virtues of reading to their kids.  Look at my darlings read, they crow, with a sanctimonious hand over the heart, and it's all due to the fact that we read to them as they were young.

Well, mine turned out just fine.  Perhaps a little too fine.  Obsessive to the point of writhing around in sheer utter agony when they do not have a book in hand.  Oh the drama, had I only read to them as children how much worse would it be?

My 4th child, who is now 7, is in love with the Kingdom of Wrenly series.  As a gift, before our Montana trip, I bought books 9 and 10.  To her sheer horror, book 9 has pages 67 - 79 cropped due to printing error so she's unable to read the story in it's complete and utter glory.  I've been reminded continuously to replace the book to the point of finally writing to Thriftbooks and alerting them to the dire situation.  I'm grateful to them for sending a replacement copy.

My 3rd child, who is now 10, is hooked on the Wings of Fire series, as is her oldest sister who got all the books for Christmas last year but refuses to let her sister borrow them.  So, while in Montana, she begged to spend her chore money to buy the digital version of book 6.

My 2nd child, who is now 12, is probably the most addicted to reading but doesn't quite realize his ability to absorb mass quantities of data in a short period of time.  Prior to the one month trip, I noticed he'd begun re-reading the Harry Potter series and helpfully suggested he take all the books.  We had room in the book box, it was only half full, he said no need.  One week into the trip and he was found listless and brokenhearted, having read every single one of his books with three weeks to go.  We scoured the local thrift stores of Polson, MT and nearby towns to no avail, surprisingly there were no bookstores.  Either no children live in that area, or they don't read books, or maybe they do and never let them go.  Just as he believed all hope was lost, we remembered that our local library offers books on an app called Hoopla, and all Harry Potter books were available.  Now he could combine his two loves, iPhone and reading and be able to do both outside of phone time.  Since we've returned he's gone through the Fablehaven books 1-3 in less than a week and was stopped only due to the fact that the library hasn't located book 4 yet.

My 1st child, who is now 14, reads at more leisurely pace than 2nd, but is also lost without 5-6 books in rotation at any given time.  She's currently reading the Aru Shah, White Bird the graphic novel, has a dog book from her birthday, and has developed a love for WWII stories.  

One of the many hurdles with VRC's (Voraciously Reading Children) is not only keeping them in books but resolving the squabbles that occur when more than one passionately loves the same series.  Who gets to read the new release first?  Should every reader have the entire series in their room?  Convincing those who are adrift when their series ends to try something new.

I grew up with two brothers and I don't think we read the same book unless it was mandated by school.  Oldest read Hardy Boys, I read Nancy Drew.  Youngest didn't like reading.  We literally never had these problems.

Perhaps the solution lies with not buying any more books?  Let all books be library check outs!  To which the two oldest, who have managed to find this blog and actually read it shall now end this post by screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO while I laugh manically in the background.

Finally, if you are still reading, and have the sudden urge to come and interrogate me on not buying any more books, there will be a quiz on some of the random words used here today.  Unless you've grown up and can now afford to buy your own books, carry on, and hopefully you have better luck with your children.  

Monday, August 15, 2022

Part 3 of our Summer Break

Part 3 of our summer break began the day after we returned from Montana.  It includes all the basic doctor appointments such as dental cleaning, eye doctor, orthodontist, and even a foot doctor to assess an ingrown toe nail.  Managing appointments for 4 kids has become a side job.

Next we will tackle school supplies which also means reconciling with the fact that the school website needs updated (another side job).

School clothes - my third child is 10 but has outgrown 10/12's, the next size is 14/16 which my 14 year old daughter wears.  They attend a private school so we buy Lands End polo's and I guess it's time to assign colors.  This tall girl needs to slow down.  No one expects girls who are 4 years apart to wear the same clothes!

At some point we really should clean the camper as we did live in it for almost a week but it's currently parked at the church because my mom had a driveway issue that needs addressed so it's been put on the get to later list but hopefully this month we can get it back to mom's house and give it a proper cleaning.

The dishwasher is making a crackling sound so we need to get those guys back to fix it.

Aisha, our black cat, and Charlotte discovered a mouse on a sticky pad in the kitchen today.  To make a long story short, we now need to search for it's friends and make sure they evacuate.  As if having a Jack Russel Terrier and 2 cats wasn't enough to drive fear into the hearts of small creatures.  I really can't imagine what the mouse was thinking but maybe, just maybe it was only one who didn't have time to facebook all his little friends and family to join our terrifying abode.  

I need to get caught up on a month and a half of bills.  Boo hiss.

One of the apartments in our rental property needs updated.  I think we're looking at 2-3 months of repainting and repairs, needless to say we'll be there every weekend until it's done.

Our lawnmower needs fixed. 

All the kids must learn to ride a bike this summer, we've simply crossed the line of reasonable timeline in which our oldest should be proficient.  Our oldest is my size, she's literally wearing my clothes and only 1/2 size smaller in shoe size and probably the same in height difference!  Henceforth, she cannot ride the medium size kid bikes anymore.  Husband has gallantly offered to build her a bike using 3 old bikes, each of which have some issue that somehow requires rebuilding one with the working parts of three.  Prior to this proclamation we had gone to a bike store and found the most basic bike to be over $600.   We've tried working with her on my college bike but the seat is too high, we can't get it any lower, and despite being almost my size she's unhappy with a bike that I've dearly loved and apparently got quite used to stopping while on the tips of my toes.  It gives me the best turning stride and I used to get every ounce of speed out of that machine.  Alas, my oldest wants to be able to put her entire foot on the ground so we are now going to build her a bike.  How will this fit into the above schedule?  Lord only knows.

Monday, May 02, 2022

April 2022

 April was a busy month:

  • Bridal Shower for my friend Gina held at Tranquila Tea house in Waynesboro, PA
  • Violette's 10th birthday
  • A baby shower
  • Easter - where our church put on an Easter play, the first in two years of which my husband had a big part and had bi-weekly play practice for months.  
  • It finally warmed up enough to work on the camper every weekend that wasn't occupied by an event
  • Revival at church
I'm really looking forward to the month of May where we have considerably less on the calendar and more opportunity to make progress on the camper.  

One thing that is missing is gardening.  Usually late March/April is when we begin our seedlings indoors.  This year we are taking a break on gardening.  We've decided that based on the number of projects we are behind on, we need to reduce the number of projects and gardening is a big chore in terms of keeping up with weeding, trellising, harvesting, and canning.  

We were originally planning to go to Montana in June, as soon as school let out, but now my friend has moved her wedding a year so we are less pressed to leave early.  It's extremely fortunate for us because we did not make much progress in April on the camper rework.  More on that in a separate post.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Sustainable Choices ~ Earth Day 2022

We are still following our 2017 and 2019 lists and here are a few more ideas that are we've implemented over the years.

1. Borrowing books from the library, one book can be read by hundreds of people.  If you amortize the cost of the book into just one hundred people, book cost of $30, the cost is $0.30 per person.

2.  Reading digital books, no printing and no physical waste!

3.  Buy less products online.  There is so much waste involved in shipping a single item, if it can be bought at the store for a similar price to online, go get it while combining the trip with other needs.  

4.  Do not use plastic bags to hold produce unless it's "wet".  Wet examples include spices like basil and certain salads.  Anything that is loose such as bananas, avocados, apples, etc can sit in your cart and then get bagged at the cashier station in your own totes.  We wash everything at home, and we're careful in handling these items, so I see no need for an extra plastic bag.  I've been following this rule for many years with no damage to produce.

5.  We donate all clothes that are no longer wearable but are still in good condition.  I used to sell them through consignments but it got to be too much work.  

Goals for 2022:

1.  Take totes to all stores, despite getting 75% of our groceries from Aldi and Costco, the remaining 25% give us a ton of bags and since the pandemic it's becoming increasingly hard to find anyone who is still offering recycling bins.  

2.  I want to take a tour of our local recycling plants and learn more about it to make sure we are doing everything correctly.

3.  Switch to biodegradable trash bags.  I'm guilty of two things:

  • I buy the cheapest trash bags.
  • I use Target/Walmart bags for small trash cans
I've realized that while we have cut back significantly on our trash output, we still put at least one can out per week with 2-3 bags of trash inside. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Toys I refuse to buy my kids

Sorry kids, as you read this one day, I tried my best to indulge but some items are on the permanently banned list.  I'm sure you will understand once you have kids of your own one day.

1.  Easy Bake Oven - if they want to bake, follow me to the kitchen, I bake homemade breads, cookies and other desserts several times a week.  It's how I learned to bake.  I'm not buying into the packages of pre-made foods so they can dump in a few ingredients and pretend to bake. 

2.  Electric Scooters - I think they are ridiculous and miss the entire point of having a scooter, which is to exercise one leg and learn good balance.  If you hit a bump, fall, and get up without screaming, as my son did about a year ago, then you get huge props for endurance.  

3.  Radio controlled Drones - just what I need, an expensive toy that can be flown and crashed.  They can buy it when they grow up and appreciate the money spent.  Maybe they will be cheap enough to crash them at that point without any concern for the money spent.

4.  Hover boards - get over your fantasy of Back to the Future or buy it when you grow up.  I'm not spending ridiculous bucks so you can fall off a zooming board that rams into the neighbors house while you lie on the ground screaming after crashing into a tree or something.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Goodbye Mr. Peppers

Today we lost our sweet cat, Mr. Peppers.  He had a disease known as FIV, which is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.  It's not very common, only about 2.5 - 4% of cats have this but it's passed through biting with outdoor cats and Mr. Peppers was a rescue cat.  We knew from early on that he had the potential to pass away quickly from an infection.

Six months ago he had a urinary infection and I was able to get him to the vet in time for an anti-biotic shot.  When it happened again this past week, I was hoping it would be the same, he'd get the shot and feel better.  He seemed to perk up for a few days and then today we could tell he was in quick decline.  I'm just glad he didn't suffer.

The kids took it very hard, several cried.  I took the day off work, it was very hard to concentrate.

Some of my best memories of Mr. Peppers:

* He could not meow, so he'd look up at us, catch our eye and then make these very cute little head movements to get our attention and get us to pet him, despite being a silent cat, he was able to communicate his wants and needs.

* He was very gentle.  One might expect a great outdoors-cat to be more rough, but he was very cautious and never aggressive at all. 

We've had him one year and six months.  I'm so honored to have been part of his cat family for the last part of his life.