Sunday, January 27, 2008

Talk Talk

We are so excited as the boy's language continues to develop. This week's milestone: ending consonant sounds! He says UP! And CUP! With the /p/ sound at the end. No more uh- and cu-. Very exciting.

He's also discovering the power of language. He pats the floor beside his racetrack and says, "play." I do it. He pats the couch and says, "cow". I sit. He pulls my hand to the fridge and says, "joo". I get him a drink. "wa-wer". I get him another drink. "hoot-sna". I open a package of fruit snacks. This new found skill has him giddy with power.

Then there's my daughter. Who NEVER stops talking. I shouldn't say never, because at this very minute she's watching Mickey Mouse and not talking. But in her presence, with no distractions, the girl shares out loud every thought that enters her head.

The frustrating part for me is that I get frustrated. And sometimes shoosh her. I shouldn't shoosh her. But sometimes a mama just needs a moment's peace. Her little face droops when I tell her this. When I tell her that her mom needs a minute of quiet and to go play. It's a new phenomenon. Me, being annoyed with her. I feel so guilty.

I figure it's a normal growing pain. She's also found the power of words. I've listened to every word she's said for four and a half years. I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Her Version

My little girl was doing a little reading this morning.
She opened her kids' Bible to one of her very favorite pages.

There was a flood, so Noah built an ark.
They were on the boat for fifty
days and fifty nights.
Noah sent an eagle to find dry land. It came back,
it did not find dry land. Noah sent the eagle out
again. It did not come back. It found a tree and
made a home. Noah knew the flood was over.

By the way, why is it that although we drag our kids out of bed at 6:00 five days a week, today they were up and ready to party at 6:05? Why, why, why???

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More on Money

Part one is just below...

I forgot to mention.
The envelope system.

I have tried this so many times and have never made it work. Then bought this book. Now it works.

Here's the trick:
You plan for every penny coming in. Every penny gets a category. Things that you only pay for a few times a year get added up to an annual total and divided by 12 months. Every month we are adding to the vet envelope, the car licensing envelope, the clothing envelope, the vacation envelope. The list goes on...and on.
The idea being that when the time comes to pay for whatever it is, say our car licensing in March, that the money is there. It's brilliant! I always just left money in the account, sort of a cushion of unaccounted for money. But instead of letting it pile up in the account to pay for needed periodic expenses, I bought things like pants. Now there's an envelope for those pants.

I hope this makes sense. It really does work. I'm loving it.
We put the few big envelopes (car licensing, vacation, furniture, household repairs, car repairs) in a lock box elsewhere. Then I have budget folder in my desk by the computer that holds the envelopes for frequent expenses, such as groceries, spending, etc. For fun, the entertainment and restaurant envelopes are in the cookie jar. For no reason other than I wanted something to go in that cute cookie jar!

So that's what's working for us.
Does it take some extra time and a lot of extra math? YES.
Is it worth it? So far, absolutely.

Curing Stuffitis

I'm a few weeks into the shopping embargo. I'm not going to lie, there have been some tough moments. The sales! Oh my, the sales. I hadn't anticipated skipping all of the winter sales.

The main difference I've noticed since starting this is that I just don't go to the store, at all. I've gone once to one of the big discount stores, when I needed diapers. Otherwise, I just stick to my neighborhood grocery store.

We've been trying to change our budget a lot and have gone to all cash for our expenses (aside from the monthly bills, obviously). So I've got an envelope system going, which has worked great this month. The Hubs and I have committed to doing that for a year, to see if it helps us in our goal of paying off some of our debts (we'll be paying student loans until our kids are ready to go to college!).

So far, so good. I wish I had some huge revelation to share. It's just been a pretty organic experience. Aside from missing a few bargains, it hasn't been a huge change. No new gadgets, no new toys. I think we'll probably even extend it past the March 1 deadline!

Friday, January 18, 2008

On Writing

I struggle back and forth (with myself) about blogging about my family. It doesn't bother ME, but would it bother them. I obviously don't use my hubby's name, I wanted to keep it anon. since he's more well known in our community. Why it didn't occur to me to protect the identities of myself and my kids, I'm not sure. Or maybe I am.

I don't think about anonymity. I don't crave it, nor do I intentionally seek attention.

When I think about my own childhood, it would be pretty cool to have an online record of my mom's thoughts and feelings. What she went through when she was rearing us. I can hear her now, telling us how dorky she thinks her writing was. She did write in our baby books, but a blog is so much more.

I picture my kids as teenagers, telling me to cut it out. And I would, if they asked. I picture my kids as adults, asking what I was thinking when I dressed them this way or said that about them. I picture them as part of a huge new generation of people whose parents all kept track of the minutiae of their childhoods. Everybody will have a childhood blog. They'll all have their own blogs. Or not.

Either way, I'll keep writing. I enjoy it so much. I see it as a fun way to remember some of the smaller things that go on in our day to day life. A place that stores our small history together. It's safe to me. I like it here.

For now, it will continue.

The Puppet Master

Last night we went out to eat as a family before heading to get some groceries. We went out at actual supper time, not at our usual before-the-dinner-rush-dinner. It felt so fun to be in a restaurant with other people. It was bustling and our kids actually didn't ruin the fun with any major tantrums, etc. Of course they were both a huge mess, but that's okay.

So we're leaving the restaurant and I'm chatting with the Hubs. Our daughter has this nasty habit of busting in on our conversations, asking for details. I gently reminded her that it was between dad and me.

"Mom, you forget that I just need to know everything. And everybody, everybody (!), needs to obey what's in my head. . . except God. But everyone else needs to listen and obey everything that's in my head."

Got that?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Choked Up

A trip back to my hometown for the first time in four months, coupled with a hometown benefit for my nephew, has left me all emotional and tired. Weepy and worn.

I'd love to write about small towns and my hometown and the beauty of living in one where you've lived your whole life (which I did not do, but my brother and his wife have done). I'd love to write about my dad's boss, who's a notorious tight you-know-what, who gave a tremendous show of support today that left my dad in tears. I'd love to write about standing in an old gym, watching the line of people, all there to support the family you love so much. And my mom, who didn't come so she could sit with my nephew, who's in isolation. And how everyone asked about her and were so proud of how much support one woman can provide. A true Matriarch. About how a hug from an old friend left us both in a puddle of tears. How life can be cruel and beautiful all at the same time.

About how one little boy can bring a town full of people to their knees. Praying that he'll be okay. Knowing that he will. I'd also write about how much my nephew kicks ass. How cool he is. How beautiful.

I'd write about it all, if there were words.

I'll be back.
Just need a few.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Teaching to Give Back

Jen and Mad are having a Just Posts baby shower. They're calling on people to do some good (grammar much?).

Here's a snippet from Under the Mad Hat (I just call her Mad, as in short for a beautiful name, more than Mad like crazy. I digress):

The Just Posts will continue and we'll continue to host all of the terrific writings for social justice in all shapes and sizes. But we are adding a baby and her name is Volunteerism. It's time to put all of our words into action. Collectively, separately. We are committing to writing and doing in whatever form that means for each of us.And this is where all of you come in. A baby deserves a baby shower, and your gifts are your writings about what it will mean to give of your time, what extra steps you will take to give back to your community and to our world, and what commitments we can all hold each other accountable to and how we can cheer each other on as we go.

Isn't that exciting?

I wrote about my own feelings about volunteering my time. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Then Aliki wrote a great comment on Giving More about how she oversees her students' community service projects. Hey! Students! I've got students! I was suddenly inspired (Thanks Aliki).

I teach students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities and several other categories of disabilities that make it necessary to teach curriculum that is not aligned with our district's general education. It used to be called "self-contained" special ed, but it really isn't. My students take other classes for their electives. I teach reading, English, science, social studies, math, and Work Introduction Network. I teach students in grades 9-12, so get to have kids for four years. The great thing is that I get to teach a lot of life skills and functional skills to the kids. For our Work Introduction Network class (we call it WIN), I get to pick units based on a general guideline, but can create new units. What better thing to teach high school kids than community service? Than the value of giving back? I am going to pool some resources from different online sources to teach these kids the value of volunteerism. Then we will choose a project to do as a group, or split into a few small groups to do a few projects. I AM EXCITED! This topic will be fun, hands-on, and will be something that my students can take home with them and hopefully will multiply.

I've read a lot on how giving back, volunteering, community service, raises a person's self-esteem. It makes people feel better about themselves and gives them something to be proud of. It is something that is often missing in the life of a person with a disability. Many people with more severe disabilities spend their lives being cared for, being served, and aren't given the chance to pay it forward. By giving people the opportunity to serve others, you help their own psyche, as well as provide community service to a local agency.

I haven't decided yet what sort of projects we will do. My plan is to have a list and let kids sign up for what interests them. If anyone has ideas for simple community service projects, I'll take them! It mostly needs to be something we can do on-site at school, but we could possibly do a one day trip if we need to.

I can't wait to read what others have planned in terms of community service. In terms of volunteerism. The whole topic is one that gets me very excited, if you couldn't tell. Time to roll up my sleeves and get out there! I plan to do updates as we get into the unit. This will be a 9 week thing, or maybe even for the rest of the school year. I've got a lot of planning to do.

Friday, January 4, 2008

One More

So the Hubs and I made a deal after Christmas.

No "purchases" until March 1. That means no toys, no DVDs, no "extras", no clothes, no gadgets. We told the kids no toys until Easter. We decided we needed to eat out less. To stay home more. We need to tighten the belt and pay down the debt. We are living outside of our means.

We want to do better.

Then Mad Hatter shares this challenge. It is such a happy coincidence. And now it feels like a competition? It at least makes me more accountable because I've got to report back how it's gone.
So go read about the challenge and read Mad's post.
I'm saying ME TOO!

Between January 4 and Feb 31, I will only purchase essential items for myself and for my family. This includes groceries/consumables, gas, basic hygiene (shampoo, soap, not cosmetics), medicine and essential clothing.

I have always been a practitioner of retail therapy. Even in high school, I would take the tip money I had earned as a waitress and treat myself to a new pair of shoes or a new t-shirt to cheer myself up. This is a bad habit that has gone on for years. The Hubs and I both do it. I figure it's time for us to find joy in our family, in each other, rather than at TaRgEt (Swistle, I'm sorry for putting down your boyfriend!).

I'm planning to track my expenses more closely during this time. I'm pledging any extra money to our debts, which we desperately need to get paid down. I'm also pledging to give some to our church, because we often leave that needed offering unpaid.

This is a pledge. Another resolution.
Oh, I love a project.
Add it to my list.


My resolutions are exactly what they were last year. Go here and then come back.

See? Good ones, right? Of course, I haven't figured out how to do all of that, or I'd have a book deal and my own talk show by now. So I'll give it another go.

I've mentioned that 2008 is going to be a better year. I'm banking on it. The fact that I'll come closer this year to meeting these goals than I did last year. And I really did okay last year.

I don't make the resolutions with the intention of meeting every single one. It is more in the pursuit. For I can always be a better person. That is why I make resolutions. Why I give myself a fresh start every year.

Until I am perfect (I'm oh, so close...), I'll resolve to do better.