Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Summer Time

I'm sitting on the front porch of my parents house watching my mom and my children gradually turn it into a lovely English garden, suitable for attracting various birds.

It got up over 90 today. My parent's teeny, tiny house does not have central air. I worked on my laptop for 8 hours straight, which got incredibly hot on my lap.

Now, close to 8 pm, the temperature is perfect and the wonderful thing about Washington is that there is relatively low humidity and no bugs. So it is very pleasant sitting on the front porch of my parent's teeny tiny house.

The negative in this whole serene situation is that I'm absolutely DYING from allergies.

At about 10:00 a.m. this morning I took a Zyrtec, which did help some, but now it seems to have lost its effect and every time I stand up I sneeze like 8 times in a row.

The bottle tells me I cannot take two pills in a 24 hour period. So I'm sitting as still as possible feeling the guilt of a first-born daughter who "should" be helping with SOMETHING.

But, regardless, sitting on the front porch is a very pleasant experience.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mom's Front Porch

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Rikka's Lost Identity

This story starts yesterday, July 2nd, in the morning. Saturday was planned to be spent getting the house ready to be gone for the month and packing for two weeks in Washington. Because I was to be gone the whole month we had an impromptu PTA meeting at Los Agaves on Friday night. While at this meeting we realized that I am the only person left on the PTA who has access to the checking account. We decided Kimberly should also have access, so we agreed to meet at the bank on Saturday at 9:30 to add her as a signer to our account and also to remove the other two who are currently on the account but no longer in PTA.

Oh, also at this meeting I found out that we do, in fact, have a Dunkin' Donuts. So at 8:30 the next morning I went to get donuts for Aron, Jordan and Eric who were going to be helping me clean and pack all day. Bribery will get you EVERYWHERE!!!

So I went to get the donuts for them and an egg-white flatbread breakfast sandwich for me (not bad, but still 7 points). Then while they started the whole cleaning/sorting/packing process I went to the bank with Kim.

We had to wait at the bank for about 20 minutes or so before we were seen. Then we were told that it would take a few days for the paperwork to be processed and sent to us for our signatures and THEN she can sign the checkbook. We also asked for debit cards, which will be mailed to the school.

So while we are getting this all ready I realize that I don't have my ID in my purse. It's just not there. I'm on a plane the next morning and I cannot find my ID. This is not good. I think for a second and realize that I do have a passport so I'll be able to fly, but still... driver's license... and I'm driving.

We remember that the DMV or whatever it's called in IOWA is open on Saturday mornings... she needs tags for her car anyway, so we head there next. It's closed because they close on Mondays anyway and Monday is a holiday.

I'm still not totally freaked out because I do have my Passport.

I go home and start packing/sorting/cleaning. I go about doing it while listening to my husband do a WONDERFUL job motivating our children to clean and sort.

I remembered that my cards sometimes fall out of my purse so I went to look under all the seats in all the cars and I found it in the Prius (the car we were in at the bank).

So yay, I now have my DL AND my passport. We go through making sure the three passports in my possession are Aron, Jordan's and mine. Eric wants his too for his trip. All four of them are together (mistake number one).

So fast forward to this morning. I'm doing the last minute things and realize that i should have done more the night before or gotten up earlier, cuz we are cutting it CLOSE!

I take my ID and my credit card out of my purse to put in my bag to have ready. I lay them on the dining room table and... I get sidetracked.

In the car Eric says "do you have the passports?" I say yes. I look at them and they are: Aron's, Jordan's and.... ERIC'S. Damn.

But, it's okay, I think, cuz I found my driver's license. Eric says, "but you have your ID, right?" Yes, I say.

I look through my bag and it's not there... I think maybe it's still in my purse, I'll check at the airport.

Eric drops us at the airport and we get in and sure enough, I do not have any form of ID.

I call Eric to turn around and get us and get in line to change my flight. I talk with the lady who says "It'll be $50/person to change your flight." I say, "Do I have a choice? I do not have ID." She says, "let me call security." Which she does.

The tell her that I'll need to go through "extra screening" but yes, I can go. I call Eric back and tell him to mail my ID (and credit card) to my parents.

We go to Security and they ask for a piece of mail with my address. fortunately I have one of these, a bill I intend to pay once I get paid on Thursday.

They let us through, and we make it on the flight (they paged us, but we made it).

Now we are sitting at Minneapolis while I try to type this and the kids each say of their DS games "Mom, I need help!"

Fun times!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spring/Summer Cleaning

There was a time, many years ago, where I was kind of a total neat freak. You would not know this about me if you've seen my house, especially in the last two years... since moving to Davenport... since leaving South Bend.

One of my biggest problems is really the overwhelming nature of *all that domestic stuff* (I'm not always polite enough to use the word "stuff" there).

Laundry never ends, there aren't enough drawers in the kids room to put away the clothes, what do you do with the single socks waiting for a cycle of laundry to "finish" to see if they match up with something?, I should change out the winter clothes with the summer clothes, these don't fit, these are ragged, these are just old...

Each task is like that for me, thinking about it leads to another thought and another action and another "I really should..." which totally incapacitates me into sitting on the couch watching TV or (more lately) reading a good (or even not so good) novel.

A week and a half ago we made an effort to all work on something domestic. Jordan wanted to help me clean my bathroom. She likes the actual CLEANING part: spray, scrub, rinse, shine... She doesn't understand that the hard part (picking up, sorting, putting/throwing away) comes first.

Anyway, i told her she could help me, but first I needed to go through all the drawers in there and get rid of anything we didn't need or use (who needs two hair-dryers when no one in the house actually USES a hair-dryer except on the rare hair-flattening experiment)? But, also, I'm reading the Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget and want to be careful to reduce, reuse, recycle and do so responsibly. (You shouldn't throw out old batteries or prescriptions, for example).

It took a little bit but I emptied everything out of every drawer in the tiny little bathroom and got rid of what I could, organized and put away what was left and then Jordan cleaned.

This week I started in the kitchen, not making a big deal out of each area, and just taking one area at a time.

First it was the freezer (this was prompted by an ice-cream sandwich I ate that tasted like freezer burn). I got rid of a bunch of old old old stuff and organized everything that was left (and also took inventory for what needs to be used up!)

Then last night it was the pantry and the two other cabinets that hold food. This project took a little longer than I expected and dinner was later than any of us wanted it to be...but all my dry-food/non-perishables are organized and easily "findable".

Today it was the fridge, which ended up taking WAY longer than my lunch break and I still need to actually empty and CLEAN the drawers that hold the veggies and fruit, but everything else looks awesome and is easily found.

We (Aron, Jordan and I) will leave this Sunday and except for one day on the 16th when we collect Eric, will be gone the entire monthly of July. It would be so nice to have the house all organized and clean before we leave so that coming back won't be such a chore.

The next big project to tackle is clothes - I think it'll take a few hours at best. But I can put on Netflix and just slowly make my way through, not thinking too far ahead, one step at a time and MAYBE it'll be done by Sunday morning when we leave.

It does feel good to know I've done what I have already done.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Bad Parent Post

Mostly I'm posting this because it must be recorded. I had a bad parent moment today. Because everyone and everything ended up unharmed, I feel there is a slight comic element to this story, so I will share.

This week Aron is at Scout Camp from 8-4. Jordan has VBS from 9-noon. Eric drops off Jordan at church on his way to school and I go pick her up during my lunch break. Except for tomorrow when Jordan has a play date in the afternoon, she spends her afternoons entertaining herself either upstairs in the house or outside with the neighbors.

Today I picked up Jordan and brought her home. She is watching Toy Story 3 in the car. And it's on this weird setting where all the visual parts are narrated.. for the blind, maybe? It does mean that while I drive I can actually kind of picture what's going on. But the setting is still weird.

Anyway, she was at a point in the movie where she wanted to stay in the car and keep watching. I was very hungry and needed to get back downstairs to work, so I parked the car in the garage, turned off the ignition to "accessories" and let her watch. She asked what to do when she was done and I said turn the key toward you and pull it out. In hindsight, this was really really NOT a good move on my part.

I heated up my leftovers and took them downstairs and got to work. About 10 minutes later Jordan comes in crying so hard, I run up to see what's wrong and she sobs: The car went backwards into Roselynn's yard and I almost died.

I ran out and found the car in the middle of the street (pointing toward our driveway).

In thinking about it after my heart started beating regularly again there is really on one explanation for how this happened:

There is the SLIGHT possibility that I didn't turn the key to accessories and left it running. If that's the case then Jordan had to put the car in reverse to get it out of the garage and across to the neighbor's yard and the in either neutral or drive to get it back out to the street.

If I DID put the car in accessories mode, then she had to turn the key first before she put it into reverse.

Either way, she is a curious little girl who believes she is capable of anything, so I really should not have left her in the position to... explore.

The only evidence of the entire event is a slight tire sized line of decreased grass across the street.

What's weird is that when I was a child, I used to have nightmares where I was in a car by myself going backwards down a hill and I didn't know how to stop the car.

Anyway, I should know better.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Day Two

I think it probably goes without saying that day two of any new habit is harder than day one. Day one you are energized and geared up to start. Day two you are thinking "WHY am I doing this again?"

So today I hit the snooze once, but then got up. The kids were both still asleep and it took a good 20 minutes to get them to get out of bed.

We meditated for 6 minutes this morning and, surprisingly, they both pretty much stuck with it for the whole time.

And the rest of the morning was kind of... not fun.

But that's two days down, right? And what do they say about establishing new habits? 21 days, I think. So we've got 19 more to go.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pictures of Aron

A few weeks ago I took the kids to South Bend with me for a day. I thought it was a no-school day for South Bend School Corporation and the YMCA would be having all-day care. But SB was making up for snow days and the Y wasn't open. My boss' wife offered to watch the kids while I worked and once her children got home from school the kids all played together.

When I got there to pick them up this is how Aron was dressed:
From 2011
Jordan was dressed in a similarly spectacular outfit but she wouldn't allow me to take a picture. They were making a show, but decided I couldn't see it. I know they had a blast. One of my boss' children is exactly one week younger than Aron and Jordan, but there are also 3 other elementary school children. And the second oldest is one of Aron's "girls".

Two weeks later it was time for the Mommy/Son dance through Davenport Parks & Rec. Aron and I had gone to two Mommy/Son dances in South Bend before we moved. Last year we were in Europe, so we missed the dance here.
From 2011
Aron was SOOOO excited and discussed with his father about getting a new shirt and tie. We went out the day before the dance and got him a whole suit and Jordan got a new Easter dress (which she's not allowed to wear until Easter Sunday.) He really loves to dress up. For his spring school picture he is wearing a striped yellow shirt with a blue tie. (Pictures forthcoming). And he's so handsome!

I look at the contrast between the two pictures above and I can't help but smile. He's silly and loving and special and wonderful and my son!
From 2011

Habits: Good and Bad

Good habits are hard; bad habits are easy. I know this is not news to anyone, nor even a new revelation to myself. It's just more evident when you are trying to not only keep good habits yourself, but instill good habits in your children.

Here's a revelation (not new, but still...) I'm lazy. Adopting habits to make me NOT lazy is my primary goal right now.

Eric teaches a course called Intro to Religion. He's pretty excited about a new idea he has for his Fall class in which he will have his students either choose to visit a place of worship that is not their own tradition (this isn't new) OR choose a religious experience. He has 6 total religious experiences and he will offer 4 for each student to choose from.

One of them is meditating a certain number of times a day (2 maybe) for 7 days. Anyway on Saturday he was presented the idea from another professor. And Sunday, after church, he decided that the family would try meditating for 10 minutes.

So we all sat on the floor "cris-cross applesauce" and he set the timer for 10 minutes and we sat with our backs straight and stared at a spot on the floor right in front of us and said, together "frozen peas makes me sneeze." (It was originally "frozen peas make weak knees" but Jordan decided that was too hard.)

Jordan dropped out after about 3 minutes and laid down, but Aron, Eric and I kept it up.

I won't say that it was a life changing event or anything, but it was kind of nice to not think about anything for 10 minutes (which is the point).

Anyway, Eric mentioned shortly afterward that we should do that every day.

We also did a 10 minute challenge of folding and putting away laundry. And I made a turkey breast w/ fixin's for dinner. It was a pretty good Sunday, all in all.

Yesterday I got a lot done and since Eric was making dinner (enchiladas) I decided I would wake up at 6 this morning and meditate for 10 minutes and then make pancakes for breakfast.

Then I decided the whole FAMILY would get up at 6 and meditate for 10 minutes.

I should explain (back to the lazy) that my alarm goes off at 6 every morning, but I hit snooze until 7.

This morning my alarm went off at 6. And I hit snooze.

But at 6:09 I got up. Jordan was up (but only for about 5 minutes or so). I woke up Aron who was actually quite ready to get up. Eric didn't want to get up, but he did.

So at 6:15 we were sitting on the floor waiting for Eric to start the timer. Jordan, again, dropped out after about 3 1/2 minutes, but then she started again with 2 minutes to go. Aron, Eric and I lasted the 10 minutes.

Again, not life changing, but if we can all sit still for 10 minutes that's a good habit, I think.

Then I made pancakes with Jordan's help.

It was kind of nice to all be up in the morning with plenty of time to do what needed doing.

I think we'll try again tomorrow for right at 6... cuz Eric has to leave early on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for class.

I think the habit of all getting out of bed at 6 is a great one to focus on. And really, you can only adopt one (good) new habit at a time, I think.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Caribbean Sweet Potato & Bean Stew

So as to make sure I'm giving credit where credit is due... This is from Rival Crock Pot Family Favorites (page 30).

It says it makes 4 servings and takes 10 minutes to prepare. I think it took me about 15.

2 medium sweet potatoes (1 lb) peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
2 cups frozen cut green beans
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2oz) vegetable broth
1 small onion sliced
2 tsp Caribbean jerk seasoning (I couldn't find this at my grocery store so I mixed together:
2 Tbsp dried minced onion (but I didn't have any so I left out)
2 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2/3 tsp salt) and used 2 liberal tsp of the mix
1/2 tsp dried thyme (yes, in addition to the above)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (in a skillet for a couple minutes on medium)

Combine sweet potatoes, green and black beans, onion, jerk seasoning, thyme, salt and cinnamon in Crock Pot slow cooker.

Cover, cook on LOW 5-6 hours or until vegetables are tender. (Mine cooked about 8 because that's how long I worked).

Adjust seasonings (wasn't necessary). Sprinkle with almonds. Serve with hot sauce, if desired (it wasn't).

All in all, a great meal!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dinner Time

This week Eric helped me plan the menu of dinners for the week. This is probably my biggest hangup with preparing dinner, the planning. Once I have a menu (and shopping list) I'm good about getting what is needed and preparing it.

Today I making ribs (much to my children's delight) in the crockpot. So dinner is already cooking. Yay me!

I think this means that I can take 10 minutes from my lunch time to clean a bathroom. I know I'll feel much better after I do.

This weekend we started "10-minute challenges" wherein we as an entire family spend 10 minutes on a chore and then get a little reward if we complete it.

I'm trying to make sure we do one each evening and three each weekend day, but we didn't do one last night. Tonight we will. (this is me convincing myself).

Okay, back to work work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blogging App and Meal Planning

I found a blogger app - it cost $2.99 and I usually prefer my apps to be free, but we'll see how it goes. So far it connects to my Blogger, Picasa, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts. How many more social networking places does one mommy need?

Tonight I went to a party. I like to get out and hang out with girlfriends, especially when I'm still trying to make friends. This was an interesting party for WildTree - spices and stuff. Anyway, we got to eat and I purchased stuff that includes a 4 week menu with shopping list, which makes me happy. I don't mind the cooking, I just want someone else to come up with the (30 minute or less) recipes and give me a shopping list so I don't have to figure it out myself. It was great when my dad lived around the corner and planned all the meals and did the cooking. He and I would shop together and I'd pay for the food, but the whole planning thing stresses me out.

I also want to know what I'm cooking before the night time comes, I don't want to have to make a decision at 5:00 at night when I'm getting ready to go pick up the kids from the YMCA. That's when I'll decide "McDonald's isn't THAT bad..."

So, after a discussion with my own mom, I've decided that I'm just going to plan little increments of time when I'll clean the house. Today when we got home I told the kids we were spending 20 minutes cleaning. It wasn't like I needed the entire house done, just 20 minutes of focused energy on the task of picking up.

Jordan loves to actually CLEAN things (dishes, windows, counters, floors). She's not all that interested in actually picking things up. And that's where it all breaks down... the clutter that accumulates. And I'm not even a pack rat! I'm all about the throwing things out and not saving anything and who cares about sentimentality! And yet, the clutter abounds. It's everywhere.

Well, now it's time for sleep. It feels as if it's a Friday, but it's not and there's one more day of work to go in this week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mommy Blog

My cousin, Jen, is working in a PhD program in English. One of her current projects is to follow a number of "mommy bloggers." I started thinking about this blog. I'm a mommy. I have this blog. Many, if not most of my entries are about my children. But I wouldn't consider myself a mommy blogger, I don't follow other mommy bloggers, I'm not aware of the culture or the philosophy of those mommy's who blog... like on a regular basis.

But my point, should there need to be one, is that I don't know how to be a great mom. I know how to be the mom I am and I feel like I'm failing miserably. I am many titles - and while mom is just one of them, I do feel like it is one of the more important ones. I'm also a wife, and a PTA Treasurer and a Den Leader and a friend and a daughter and an employee... I'm not sure how women today juggle it all successfully.

Tonight at our Lenten Small Group we talked about the decisions we make. Struggling between "yes" and "no". Our group discussed the difficulties of saying "No". It's a skill that is learned and I've done some of it over the past few... months, I guess. But when I'm overwhelmed with everything I don't know where to cut back. I don't know how to say "no" when I've already committed a "yes".

And then there's the guilt. The guilt that comes of not doing something well that I think might have an impact on my children's lives, or their upbringing, or their education.

There is really only one area in my life where I feel like I truly succeed and that's at my job. While being good and enjoying one's job is not a luxury everyone can afford, I'm grateful that I am and I do.

Why can't I translate that success to the rest of my life? Why can't I be great at making new friends, or keeping the house clean, or having patience with my children? Why does success seem to narrow it's focus to one area. And why, as a 21st century mom, is success in one area just... not enough?

I don't know how to get healthy. To get to a place in life where I can accept the things I need to do, and accept the things I can't get to. I feel like I swing between extremes, either completely productive to the exclusion of all else, or completely lazy to the exclusion of all else. That's not healthy, right? That's not balance. Isn't balance what we strive for?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

kissy... kissy..... kiss kiss kiss!

The first thing you have to know is that Eric has this "thing" with the kids called "Kissy, kissy, kiss kiss."  It's where he, like a predator comes up and says "uh oh!  Do you know time it is?  It's time for kissy.... kissy.... kiss kiss kiss kiss" which is followed by kisses all over their face and neck.  It never fails to get them giggling and shrieking.  This has been a "thing" for at least a few years now.  It ALWAYs is a way to get Aron in a good mood.  He loves affection.  

The second thing you have to know is that Aron and Jordan read every night to one of us.  It's their homework.  Often they read from little copied books that they bring home.  One that they've had for a couple months is entitled "Slap Hello!"  It tells of different ways people say hello.  The cover has two soccer players giving a hi-five.

Aron decided to read this book to Eric last night.  Throughout the book Aron and Eric would act out the various ways they say "hello" in the book.  If they describe friends giving a hi-five, Aron and Eric would hi-five.

Aron reads" The pals will not hug and kiss. But they will shake hands." Eric and Aron shook hands.

Finally Aron turned the page and read aloud "Kiss, kiss ki..." and without missing a beat he said "Oh crap" and Eric would have done his kissy.... kissy... but Aron's response was just too much and HE dissolved into laughter for about 5 minutes. 

It was priceless, and just one of the many things that make 7 year olds endearing.