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Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: Our Year in Review

I love my blog. I have been at this for about a year now and I still enjoy blogging very much, although you wouldn't know it by the amount of posts I have been writing lately. This has been a very topsy turvy year for my family and I have not had the motivation or self-discipline to manage things the way that I would have really liked to.

For starters, we added Grumpy to the family. I said I wouldn't be putting up any more pictures, but I am going to make an exception to show you guys how big he's getting.


Yep, he looks that grumpy pretty much all the time. He is a handful, but he is such a blessing and I can't even remember what life was like without him. He's walking now and he just cut his first tooth! I can't believe I am mama to an almost four year old and an almost one year old, the time is just flying by.

I have started trying to write seriously again this year to help make ends meet and that has been quite a challenge. I love the fact that I can make extra money to help out and still have my boys by my side. I am finally starting to find a rhythm that works for us, although our days are still pretty unpredictable.

I am also homeschooling Bug and while I'd like to say I have it all figured out, I don't. I am slowly beginning to understand what works best with him, but I have to fight my need to treat him like a kindergartner in military school, bless his heart. I have completely abandoned any type of curriculum based learning for the past two months and have just been following his lead. I have finally started to relax about it, there for awhile I was beginning to wonder if I was cut out for homeschooling, but the insanity has passed and we are moving forward with the original plan.

So, here I am taking a review and trying to figure things out. I no longer do New Year's resolutions, that's just setting myself up for failure. I do have a few things I plan to try and improve in the coming year, including managing my time more efficiently, improving our financial situation (not singlehandedly, the husband is in on the plan), taking better care of me (sounds selfish, but everyone in my family will end up suffering if I don't) and most importantly, spending more time reading my Bible and in prayer. That is so often the first thing that slides and then, of course, I don't handle anything with grace or ease.

I also have some plans for this blog and I want so badly to begin posting regularly here again. I refuse to say I will post regularly again because if I do, it will likely never happen. I am slowly figuring out why I get nothing done. In a post earlier this year I said that I was lazy, but I don't really think that's it. I believe I just get so overwhelmed by my responsibilities and all that I have to do that I zone out. The computer has been my escape, that's a battle that I'm finally starting to win. My husband pointed out recently when I was complaining about my lack of time that I spend far more of it on the computer than I realized. I was a little upset at first, but I have discovered that he is right. Don't you hate when that happens?

Anyway, to wrap up this long and rambling post, I am excited about the coming year. I have learned so much, most importantly how truly blessed I am. Even with all of the struggles I thank God for all that He has done for us in 2009. I hope that you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season, see you here next year!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the The Young Scientists Club Set 7: Bones and Muscles, The Senses and Light Science Kit is Abby! Congratulations to you and thanks so much to all of you who participated in this giveaway.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Help Me Someone Please

Disclaimer: I love Bug. There is no one in the entire world that I love more. I realize how blessed that I am to have him. Now, on to my complaining.

Bug will not stop talking. He will.not.stop. He's always been very active and talkative, but this is different. It goes like this:

"Mommy, look, look what I can do. Mommy look, come here and look. Look. Look what I can do mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Look. Watch this. I can make footprints in the carpet. Watch this. I can make footprints in the carpet. What kind of animal am I? Mommy. Look. Come here and watch. Mommy, I put tape on bubby's head. He's o.k. Mommy, come here and look where I put tape on his head. Sorry mommy. I won't put tape on his head again. Mommy. Look....".

I have never had a three and a half year old before, so I'm assuming this is par for the course. But tonight I'm a wreck. I have a headache, it actually feels like my head is in the grip of some sort of torture device. I am a little nauseous and I'm having thoughts about opening the door and running down the road. Fast. I just need silence. Just a little silence. My hands are actually shaking. I almost started crying a few minutes ago in the kitchen because I realized it was still over an hour until bedtime.

He is currently running in circles (literally) and talking nonstop. I don't think he even notices that I am not answering.

Grumpy has only slept through the night once in the past four months (and that was only until 5:00) so I think I am just...tired. I need a few minutes of silence and a long, long nap.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Finally Did It...

I am the proud owner of thriftysouthernmama.com! I have been toying with the idea of purchasing my own domain for awhile and after some promptings from the husband I finally did. I love the idea of building websites, it's something about having control over my own little space on the web (did I mention that I am a control freak?) and I've taken my first baby step.

Don't expect anything major to change here for awhile, I am also a bit obsessive and the simple act of finding the right theme has been enough to send me over the edge. I have instructed the hubby to learn web design immediately so that he can build me a custom theme for free, but I don't think he's interested. Oh well. Hopefully sooner rather than later the new site will be up and running and too much of my hair won't be pulled out in the process. I will keep you updated!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blessed

I have always loved Thanksgiving, partly because of the food and partly because it is a prelude to Christmas. When I was a little girl I thought of it as a practice run. Now that I am officially grown up I also see it as a great opportunity to acknowledge the blessings that I have been given. Since I have a blog now I figured why not list them here...

1. My relationship with the Lord. I know I am loved unconditionally by God, I know I am going to Heaven and I never have to face a single day alone.

2. My husband. I never believed I would find someone who could be what he is to me. I can completely be myself with him, even when being myself isn't necessarily a good thing. He even loves me when my nose is all red and swollen or I don't shave my legs for a week.

3. Bug. There just aren't words for this little blessing. He will always be my "sunshine baby", even when he's forty years old! He is beautiful, gives great snuggles and has a huge heart, I can't wait to see what he comes up with everyday.

4. Grumpy. I tell my husband that the Grump is the best bad idea I ever had. He makes our little family feel complete. While he is a bit cranky, he loves to be loved. He loves kisses, hugs, cuddles, and is as good at giving them as he is at receiving. He loves me more than anyone else, and while I know that it won't last, I am reveling in it at the moment. He is a mama's boy and I wouldn't have it any other way.

5. My parents. They still treat me like I'm twelve and I love it. They buy me things, worry constantly, basically spoil me rotten. I don't plan to try and stop them anytime soon, I blame this on the fact that I am the baby of the family.

6. My brother and sisters. I have always thought it would be so lonely to be an only child (which explains why there is a Grump snoring in the bedroom) and I am so glad that I have my siblings.

7. My nieces and nephews. There are a ton of them and they are all so special to me. Sure, when Jon and Kelli were little I wanted them gone, but now that we're all adults I'm glad I didn't follow through with my plan to "accidentally" lose them while shopping. Before you think I'm insane, there are only a few years between us, I was just a little girl.

8. A nice place to live. Sometimes I get so down about the fact that we rent, but we're fortunate to have a comfortable, safe home with plenty of room for our babies. If I'm tired I have three warm beds to choose from, if I want a hot shower it's a few steps away and a drink of clean water is always available. We are warm, we're dry, we have absolutely nothing to complain about.

9. Staying at home with my boys. I am amazed sometimes that it actually worked out. I still remember the night I sat next to my husband, huge pregnant, sobbing that I didn't want to leave my baby. It seemed impossible, but thank God, here I am.

10. My husband's job. These days it's a blessing to have one at all, and he also has a company truck which saves a ton on gas.

11. Freedom. I am so thankful that I live in a place where I am free to worship, live and raise my kids the way I want to. I know our country is far from perfect, but it beats the other options in my opinion.

12. I have a history. I can trace my family's lineage back generations, I know where I belong and it's one of the most beautiful places in the world.

13. My computer. Oh how I love my computer. It helps me learn, keep up with family, earn a little extra cash, pursue my dreams, play games, waste endless amounts of time...

14. Pajamas and throws. Sure it sounds silly, but there is nothing cozier in the world than putting on my p.j.'s, grabbing a book and curling up under a throw.

15. Books. I love to read, when I get a new book to read I am more excited than I would be if I bought five new outfits.

Of course, there is a lot more that I am thankful for, but I'm not going to bore you with how much I love cheese or how happy a shirt pulled straight from the dryer makes me. I hope you all have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CSN Toys and Games Online Giveaway!



This giveaway is now closed, thanks to everyone who participated.

The folks at CSN Toys and Games Online are sponsoring this great giveaway for my readers. One winner will receive The Young Scientists Club Set 7: Bones and Muscles, The Senses and Light Science Kit. It is listed as "a great introduction to the field of human physiology" and I will admit, I first wanted to do a review until I realized that Bug isn't old enough to really appreciate it.

As a homeschooling mama I think these kits look promising, they have won the 2009 Creative Child Award, Parents' Choice Foundation, and a Museum Store Association Buyer's Choice award as well. If you are looking for online toys you will want to check CSN Toys and Games out, they have a great selection, everything from dolls to bicycles.

Also, if you order any of the kits you can enter the code YSC20 at checkout for an extra 20% off.

Now, time for giveaway rules. Leave a comment on this post to enter. If you subscribe to or follow this blog you get one extra entry, tweeting or blogging about the giveaway gets you two extra shots. Just mention that you subscribe, tweeted, whatever, in your comment and I will make sure that you get your extra entries. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Wednesday, December 2nd at midnight. I will announce the winner on Thursday morning. Good luck!


Monday, November 23, 2009

I Am a Dork

I can practically see my family and friends nodding their agreement. I was pretty excited to log in a few moments ago and find several comments. I then proceeded to delete all of said comments instead of publishing them. So...to those of you who commented, I am sorry. Sigh.

Update: I'm not a dork! Well, yeah I am, but it was Blogger's fault, not mine apparently. Some of my comments are back so I couldn't have deleted them. Maybe the rest will magically reappear tomorrow, who knows!

Some Things I'm Learning

Ever since I became a stay at home mom I have struggled with organization, time management, our financial situation and trusting the Lord to provide. I have tried everything, read everything, prayed and I still end up uneasy, unsure of myself and feeling like I just can't do anything right. I have been getting serious about supplementing our income this past month or so, which means my plate has been quite full. Between cleaning, cooking, handling finances, writing, homeschooling and taking care of everybody, my plate has been pretty full. I have learned some life lessons, things I probably wouldn't have learned if I'd had more time to over think everything. Here they are, quite randomly:

1. To-do lists are not an automatic solution nor are they evil. They also don't have to be perfectly written on beautiful stationary. A white sheet of notebook paper sectioned off into meals, home, work, and kids works well. It's also o.k. to change this list throughout the day. Oh, and nothing horrible happened when I marked not a single item off my list that one day.

2. It only takes me three minutes to peel potatoes for supper, not the 22 that I had originally thought. It only takes me four minutes to fold towels and three minutes to unload the dishwasher. I have tried giving myself a limit on these tasks just to see how fast I can get finished if I try, it turns out that I am a speed demon!

3. It is possible to write a rough draft of an article while two boys are making driving sounds three feet away.

4.It feels really good to contribute financially to our household without leaving my kids with someone else. Really, really good.

5. Completely unrelated to managing a household, but some people are just not good for my family. I can make excuses all day long as to why they are the way they are, feel sorry for them, and want to help but at the end of the day it is what it is. If you have people like this in your life it's o.k. to politely ask them to go away, shut the door, and pray for them without allowing their issues to affect your family.

6. Turning things over to God is not a one time deal. It's something that I have to do over and over, sometimes all day long. I've struggled with this for so long, I would tell myself I was going to walk away from a problem and leave it in His hands, but just in case He was busy, I'd go ahead and make a Plan B. And write it down, highlighting especially important points. Then I'd feel so horrible when my prayer was answered and there I sat, holding a crumpled copy of Plan B. I'm finally beginning to understand that He isn't angry with me about this because He knows how I am. I've been able to take some tiny baby steps and I'm not feeling the need to make so many alternate plans lately.

It's amazing to me that I am 31 years old and just starting to figure out such simple things. I have a lot going on, which would normally make me nervous, but for some reason it's just making me happy and content this time around. Go figure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

FWS - Feline Withdrawal Syndrome


I am suffering from a terrible case of FWS (Feline Withdrawal Syndrome). I don't think it's a real disorder, but it should be. I can honestly say that, outside of children, there is nothing in the world more beautiful to me than a cat. Sleeping, eating, pouncing, ignoring me, attacking my ankle because I didn't obey a request immediately, they're beautiful no matter what they do.

I have always been this way. From the time I was able to crawl I have been covered in cats. There are photos to back this up. I would have never believed there would be a time when I didn't have a cat, but here I am. We moved shortly after re-homing Tigger and P.J. and we aren't allowed indoor pets at our new home. Which is just as well, Bug is allergic to fleas and I'm terrified that we will once again have an infestation. I would love to have an outdoor cat (which is what I pretty much always had growing up), but we live so close to the road that I don't think it would be fair to bring a cat here.

My ideal cat is much like Dynamo (pictured above), my mom's cat that I claimed as my own. Until I moved out and they wouldn't let me take her with me. She was grumpy, aloof, hateful, and generally unpleasant to be around. She also randomly attacked guests, refused to stop scratching the furniture and would only eat the most expensive and hard to find types of cat food. But there was another side to her. She kept my feet warm in winter, snuggled with me every night and once actually reach her paw out and caught one of my tears when I was crying about something. She got me through some really tough times. Call me crazy if you want, but I miss her like a human family member. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.

So here I am with a kitty shaped hole in my heart. I have been sad about this for awhile, but today there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We have been seeing some cats around the house, one I know belongs to our landlady. I may have possibly been putting food out back in the hopes that I would find a stray to love. My dear hubby informed me that when he was on the porch last night there were nine cats out there. All at once. That's 36 paws. He said they looked like strays.

Now, since these cats were already here I don't see any harm in adopting one. I mean, it would be helping, right? There were black ones, a calico, a brindle... I have decided to go for it. Here's the plan:

1. Choose the scrawniest, most pitiful cat as this one is most likely to not have an owner. And if it does, then they aren't doing a good job so technically, I should win by default.

2. Ask the landlady if she knows who it belongs to. If she doesn't, I proceed.

3. Feed the cat. Name the cat. Get a collar. Introduce the cat to the husband by name after the food has been purchased and the collar is in place.

4. Take pictures of said cat to post here.

5. Become faithful servant of said cat and all of it's stray buddies.

Oh, and Grumpy loves cats too. He saw one outside a couple of weeks ago and I thought he was going to pass out he got so excited. I took him out and let him touch it and he couldn't hold himself still.

My husband seems to think I need professional help to deal with this problem. This may be true, but adopting a stray is a much cheaper way of dealing with it. And a lot more snuggly, too!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm Still Here!

I have not posted in quite some time so I thought I'd better do a quick update before somebody starts to think I'm dead (I do that with people whose blogs I read, because really, how would you know for sure?). I have been so busy lately, writing as much as possible for Demand Studios, chasing Grumpy, researching the best ways to teach Bug, Christmas shopping, etc. and so on. I miss posting here so I am getting ready to sit down and make a list of post ideas.

I cannot believe it's almost Thanksgiving already, that boggles my mind. I can practically taste my mom's sage dressing and the pecan pie. I have just about finished my shopping already, this is the earliest I've ever managed to get it done. I can't wait to put up the tree, although I am dreading keeping Grumpy from climbing it. He can't walk yet, but boy can he climb. I found him sitting on top of Bug's art desk a couple of weeks ago.

I have also added some new blogs to my blog roll that you might want to check out. Oh, and I'm getting ready to add a poll that I'd love for you to take a look at. I need some inspiration as far as what to write about and I would really appreciate your help with that.

That's pretty much it for now, I'm hoping Grumpy will go to sleep soon so I can do a little "blog tidying" and get to work on that list of post ideas. It's really hard to type when he is pulling on my arm, gumming my knee cap and collapsing in a dramatic heap in the floor. I'm thinking he needs some daddy time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Homeschooling Bug

Homeschooling Bug is a wonderful, confusing and sometimes frustrating experience. I was unsure about how to approach it, I couldn't find a curriculum that seemed to fit us, so I have been pretty much making it up as I go. He has been doing so well and most of the time he really seems to enjoy it. We usually do "learning time" twice a day, three days a week. With my uncertain schedule (a direct result of Grumpy) I am afraid that if I don't have a specific time to work with him, it just won't happen. It's a wonderful notion in theory, but Bug sometimes has other ideas.

If he's already doing something, like playing cars or playing with his brother, he is not interested in learning time. I know that at this age I'm not really supposed to pressure him (right?) but I still end up feeling annoyed because I am afraid that I won't get to it later. If that happens often he might not learn what he needs to. I think I am still s trying to make homeschooling look like "real" school and I don't think that's Bug's style.

One of the things that I love about the idea of homeschooling is the freedom we have to teach our kids in the way that is best for them. Bug may learn one way while Grumpy is totally opposite and that will be fine, I can cater to whatever they need. I just don't know where to start. I have read some about unschooling and I am really, really confused. I mean, I try to teach Bug all day, answering his questions, cheering him on when he decides to identify all the letters he knows on the back of the cereal box. Is that unschooling? I just don't know.

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I get completely terrified. I don't want to mess this up. I truly feel that it's what God would have us do, so I have to stop and ask Him again to show me what to do, remind myself that I can trust Him completely. Being a mommy is the scariest thing that I have ever done in my life. I want the best for my sweet babies and I cannot fathom why God would entrust them to me. But He did so I have to figure this out.

I have sat down and considered what I want my boys to know, what I think is most important. First and foremost, I want them to learn about the Lord, to be saved and live their lives walking with Him. Nothing is more important than that. I want them to have a love of learning, to love good books. I want them to be much better at math than I ever was, we may have to call in back up for that one. I want them to learn at an early age how to manage money, the importance of avoiding credit cards, the importance of living debt free. My husband and I are learning that lesson the hard way. I want them to explore and get excited about new discoveries and never feel caged in by what they should be learning on a particular day. I want them to appreciate nature, their heritage and the mountains they are being raised in. I want them to know that college is wonderful if they choose it, but if not that's ok too. I want them to be happy and confident and kind.

Now, I just have to figure out the best way to go about this. I want to let them guide me in what they learn, but I can't quite let go of my fear that if I do that they will not learn all that they should. If any of you know of any good books or websites about unschooling I would love it if you would share. Any suggestions at all would be welcome actually. I would love to hear the approach that others take when teaching preschoolers because this is really hard!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Link Needs to Be Shared

Sarah Mae from Like a Warm Cup of Coffee posted this over at (In)Courage and I had to share it, it's a good one. I am going to try to post something more lengthy later today or tomorrow, the Grump is teething and has a bit of a fever so he is stuck to his mama like glue and he doesn't really like the computer all that much. As in, he screams if I approach the computer. He runs this house with a tiny iron fist, I think it's his red hair. Have a great day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Update on Bug's Eyes

I posted before about Bug being diagnosed with strabismus and the concern that he might need surgery. He went for his follow-up appointment yesterday and thank the Lord, they have improved. I, along with the rest of our family, have been praying for Bug's eyes to be healed as well as for the wisdom to make the right decisions. The optometrist said she'd never saw anything like it, his eyes have improved so much that she was "absolutely amazed". Praise the Lord!

She wants to see him again in four months to reevaluate and see if there is a need for other treatment, such as patch therapy. She also confirmed what I'd read, that the surgery would not correct his vision, but is purely cosmetic. I am so very, very thankful for this and I will keep praying for improvements to my baby's eyes. Thanks to those of you who have also been praying for us, it is very much appreciated.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Drumroll Please...

The winner of the adorable pink lamp and my very first giveaway is Mamushi Love (Vicky)! Congratulations to you and thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway, it turned out even better than I had anticipated.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Working Motherhood is Brutal

The title of this post may or may not make any sense. I couldn't decide so I went with it. No, I'm not going back to work outside the home, I just had a flashback. For the first six months of Bug's life I worked as a legal assistant. It was horrible. Not the job, the lifestyle. My three year sahm anniversary was October 16th. I have a handful of days that I consider the happiest in my entire life and October 16th, 2006 definitely made the list.

Last night my niece Robin called and she was telling me about how her little girl had kept her up until 2:00 a.m. recently and laughing about how hard it was to get up for work the next morning. That's when the flashback happened. A typical night with Bug went like this:

10:30 - Get Bug to sleep
11:00 - Get in bed
11:02 - Get back up with Bug
1:30 - Bug is back asleep. Sob. Fall back asleep.
3:00 - Get up with Bug
4:00 - Get Bug back to sleep. Consider sobbing, decide it's too much work, fall back asleep.
5:00 - Up for the day.

Last night Grumpy woke at 3:00 screaming like he'd been abandoned to the wolves. I'm not sure exactly how long it took to get him back to sleep, but it must have been awhile because I'm running into walls this morning. I was remembering how hard it was with Bug and honestly, I don't know how I did it. I do recall one incident where I told my boss (who was super sweet and understanding) not to expect much out of me because I'd been up all night.

I pray that I will never take for granted this blessing of being at home with my boys. From lazy days in our pajamas to long weekends just spent hanging out with my husband, I would not trade it for all the money in the world.

My niece holds down a full time job and is a single mom caring for an 18 month old. Oh yeah, she's also not yet 25 and has bought her own home. I'm not sure I could do what she does everyday. I was begging for mercy eight weeks in.


So, for those of you working mamas who have no choice but to be superwoman everyday, my hat is off to you. To the working moms I know in real life, if there's anything I can do to make your life a little easier, let me know. Seriously.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Online Income Update



As mentioned in a previous post, I am working with Demand Studios now. I am happy to report that so far things are going quite well. I have only published two articles so far, but both have gone through with no rewrite requests. I have already been paid for the first one and my second payment is in process. To add to my delight, the topics were actually interesting and both were something that I had real life experience with. I am praying that this will continue to work out, it seems like exactly what we need to fill in the gaps when my hubby doesn't get to work.

I also wanted to mention a website that I think might be helpful for moms trying to earn an income writing from home. 30 Queries in 30 Days is full of no nonsense advice from a work at home mom who is also homeschooling six daughters. I really enjoy her sarcastic humor, she cracks me up.

I am trying really hard to strike a balance between my real job of wife and mommy and my side gig of writing to bring in something extra. I have tried so many times to convince myself not to do it, but when I'm not writing I am miserable. I figure I might as well try to make something while I do it.

That's all for now, don't forget about my little giveaway, I will be drawing a winner on Thursday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Very First Giveaway!

Update: This giveaway has closed and I will be announcing the winner shortly. Thanks to everyone who participated!

How adorable is this lamp? The folks at CSN Baby are giving this gorgeous lamp to one of my readers. They have a ton of beautiful nursery decor, pretty much anything you need for baby's room including furniture. I wish I'd found them when I was buying stuff for the boys!

Now, how to enter...just leave a comment here and if you qualify for extra entries (see below) make sure you mention it in your post.

Extra Entries: One extra entry if you are a subscriber (or decide to subscribe just to get an extra entry, I'm not picky).

One extra entry for tweeting about this giveaway and how fabulous my blog is (I'm kidding about that last part).

Two extra entries for posting about this giveaway on your blog.

The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

I will be announcing the winner on Thursday, October 29th. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is There Hope for Me?


This picture was taken last January the day I was released from the hospital. Notice the bags under my eyes, the lovely ball of frizz surrounding my head and my joyous expression. Grumpy will be nine months old Friday and, well, I still look like that.

Before I became a stay at home mom I managed to pull myself together every workday because I worked in a law office and I didn't have much choice. I honestly don't know how I did it. I barely manage to get my hair combed now. Until this morning it had been about four months since I had plucked my brows and I don't even want to discuss the last time painted my toenails. I'm a mess and it's driving me insane.

I have a lot on my plate, so I've been cutting myself some slack. I am full time mama to two boys, I'm a wife, I (try to) write from home when the little ones allow it, and I am responsible for the majority of the cleaning, laundry, shopping and bill paying. I don't have a lot of spare time, but at least I get a shower and my teeth brushed every day. That's got to count for something, right?

There are some things that I need, I am starting to realize. I need time to be a woman, to do my hair, to do my nails and maybe 15 whole minutes for make-up. I need to occasionally wear something that isn't covered in spit-up, dried peaches, marker and cupcake batter (seriously, I'm wearing them all right now). I need time to style my hair. I need time to comb my hair. That would be nice. I'm just not sure how to manage it.

I honestly couldn't tell you what's in style at the moment, I can't seem to find the motivation to care. I see women all the time who have as many or more kids than me and their hair is styled, their wearing cute (clean!) outfits, and they don't seem stressed or hassled. I can't help but wonder what I'm doing wrong.

My husband says I am beautiful and perfect looking exactly the way I do (again, see photo above) and I love him for it, I really do. But I am so very tired of feeling bad about myself. I don't know really know how to start to fix this, and I don't know if that's because it's just that hard or if it's a symptom of my muddled mommy brain. I am o.k. with my features, I've finally come to terms with my curly, red hair, fair skin and big (huge!) lips, I just need to figure out how to pull myself together.

I don't mean to complain, I love my life and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Yet I see other women managing to look nice with little ones, I want in on the secret. If any of you have the answer I would absolutely love to know what it is. Just leave me a comment, email, an offer to babysit my kids for free while I spruce up (kidding, of course). I'll be waiting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easy Oven Stew

My mom had an old electric co-op cookbook that fascinated me when I was a little girl, it was from the 1950's and had a picture of a woman in heels, skirt and an apron on the front. When I got married she gave it to me and I still love it. Of course, you'll not find me in that get up anytime soon, but it does have some really good recipes. My husband likes meat and potato type dishes, so last week I gave Easy Oven Stew a whirl. It was really good, Bug even liked it, he devoured every carrot he could get his fork on. Here is the recipe, contributed by Mrs. Kenneth Imhoff of West Salem, Oregon, if you want to give it a try:

Easy Oven Stew

2 pounds beef, cut up for stew
2 tbsp, flour, 1 tsp. salt, dash pepper, dash paprika
4 to 6 small onions
4 potatoes, diced
16. oz. tomato sauce
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 cup sliced celery
4 carrots, sliced
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine flour, salt, pepper and paprika, roll beef in seasoned flour, toss with oil in 3 qt. casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring once. Add vegetables and toss with meat and juices, add water, salt and pepper, pour tomato sauce over all. Cover and bake at 350 degrees about 2 hours or until everything is tender.

I didn't use as many onions as the recipe called for and I used baby carrots instead of sliced. The carrots weren't as tender as I would have liked, so next time I'm going to try slicing them. This would make the perfect meal for a cold evening, I think it's going to be a cool weather regular around here.


Monday, October 12, 2009

What's Going On

I realize I haven't been posting very often lately. I've had some ideas, but by the time I get a second to sit down and type they have completely abandoned me and since I know you probably don't want to hear details about my ingrown toenail or Grumpy's diaper contents, I've just been keeping quiet.

Since we moved in July it seems like everything has been a little haywire and out of control. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was, but things were definitely off kilter. I finally had enough last week and spent a few days getting everything (from menu plans to closets) back in order. I feel so much better now. Maybe I will actually be able to post something interesting here, you just never know!

I have mentioned before that I really don't enjoy writing for web content companies and how torn I am because it seems like a really good way to make extra money from home. I applied with Demand Studios and got accepted and I have to say, it looks promising. The topics are interesting, they are a reliable source of income that a ton of work at home mama's rely on, and you have seven days to complete each article. I am tentatively moving forward with the notion that this is what I've been looking for. I still want to do my own blogs and sites and figure out affiliate marketing, but this seems like a great way to fill in when my hubby loses work due to weather, etc.

When I was pregnant with Grumpy I was very, very sick everyday for the first four months and phenagryn was a lifesaver for me. Unfortunately, I was near lifeless when I took it (the doctor warned me that if I took a whole one at my weight I would probably end up unconscious) but lifeless was sooo much nicer than feeling like I was going to hurl the majority of my waking hours. Apparently the wonderful sleep habits of my kids have toughened me up. This morning I woke up feeling very, very nauseous and every thing I smelled made me feel like gagging. I am terrified of throwing up, so I swallowed half a phenagryn in desperation. I expected to spend the morning too sleepy to move, but even with the gap in sleep last night (the Grump was up from 2:00-3:30) I just feel a little drowsy. I guess I have my boys to thank for that, although I would have preferred to just feel sleepy once a year when I took the medicine over losing hours of sleep every.single.night for what will likely be 18.5 years.

That's about all I have for now, I am off to try to straighten up the house. Again. Have a great Monday!

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Grumpy's Been Up to Lately

My little Grumpy is just over eight months old now and he is finding his own sweet little ways to bring joy (terror) to our household. Here are a few of his current projects:

1. He has been practicing a lovely evil growling sound. There's nothing in particular that seems to set him off, he just does it randomly. I was seriously freaked the other day when he started doing it right after he spit up peas.

2. He's been polishing up his phone skills, attempting to contact the outside world whenever one of us makes the mistake of leaving the phone within his reach.

3. He has a theory that if anyone other than mama holds him for more than three minutes the world will end with a mighty bang. This is really making it hard to ditch him on my family when I go to visit them.

4. Having his diaper, shirt, pants or socks changed now results in Super Ninja Baby moves, accompanied by The Horrible Cry, which sounds a lot like he is being mauled by a wild animal. By the time I'm finished changing him I am sweating. Seriously. I really, really wish he wasn't pooping again right now, by the way.

5. He enjoys dancing at inappropriate times, like when he should be sleepy because he's been awake since 6:00. I suggest a nap, he starts dancing.

6. He has found a new game called No No Means Crawl Faster, as in I say "No, no Grumpy, don't go under the table.", and he crawls under the table as fast he can while squealing with delight.

7. He has become concerned that if I eat my food at suppertime (or breakfast or lunch) I will then proceed to eat his. To prevent this from happening he sobs hysterically every time I stop feeding him long enough to take a bite of my own food.

8. He has decided not to waste precious time and energy on things like getting a tooth or sleeping through the night. Or playing independently in his play yard. Or letting Daddy hold him for more than five minutes. Mommy apparently looks bored, so he's taken it upon himself to make sure that I stay busy. Usually from about 6:00-10:00, give or take a couple hours of naptime.

9. He loves to snag the remote during Little Bear and turn off the satellite box. Bug does not like it when he does this and screams hysterically. Grumpy dances a little.

10. He can now say MaMa and DaDa. DaDa is said sweetly, often in a whisper while MaMa (or NaNa sometimes) is only heard when I abandon him in horrible places like his Mammaw's lap or do something unthinkable like change his diaper.

Well, there you have it, the current adventures of the Grump. The husband and I have decided that if he wasn't so darn cute we'd have already shipped the little troublemaker off to one of the grandparents.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Hard Decision

Bug had to have glasses. We started noticing a few months ago that one of his eyes looked like it was "wandering", but it only did it when he got really excited. His granny told me that one of her kids used to be able to do that on purpose, we thought he was just being silly. Then it started doing it more often and we realized that something was wrong.

Turns out that my little Bug is near sighted, far sighted, and has an astigmatism. It also turns out that the optometrist started talking surgery almost as soon as he got in the chair. Of course, the mommy in me almost panicked. I can't stand the thoughts of him having to go through that. At first she was planning to send him straight to a specialist to discuss surgery, but because of my reaction (I think) she decided to give him glasses and have him come back in a month.

My mommy radar is going off big time here. For starters, I don't think a month is enough time to decide whether or not the glasses are going to work. Second, I really don't trust doctors. I mean, just because this person has gone to school for a lot of years doesn't guarantee that she has the integrity to make decisions based completely on medical necessity and not the love of a dollar. Experiences that we went through with my mammaw have taught me that. How can I be sure?

I decided to do a little research myself about the procedure and it turns out that it rarely corrects vision (and can sometimes harm it) and is almost always for cosmetic benefits. Shouldn't this information have been offered to me upfront? Instead the doctor just assumed that I would jump at whatever suggestion she had, and she was ready to rush my baby off to a likely surgery without even explaining that it probably wouldn't correct his vision in any way.
Don't get me wrong, if Bug's eyes looked really bad and surgery was going to make his life easier, we would most likely do it. Bug's eyes just don't look that bad.

We are really having a hard time with this. I am praying for the wisdom to make the right decision, whatever will be the best for him in the long run. Sometimes the responsibility of being a mommy is way more than I feel qualified for and more than a little scary.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm an Aunt Again!!!

Well, great-aunt actually. My niece Kelli gave birth to Abigail Grace this morning, I can't wait to meet her. They tell me she has a head full of black hair and gorgeous blue eyes. Apparently Kelli and her husband Terry are going to have kids with every possible hair color. Samuel, the five year old, has the most beautiful copper hair and Noah, the almost three year old, has light brown. Now they just have to add a blonde baby to the mix (which they'll probably do next year, they are much braver than me) and they will have pretty much covered them all.

I have been an aunt since I was four years old. I am an old hat at this, counting all the nieces and nephews on both sides of our family (including those acquired through marriage) we have 22. I still get excited when we get a new one.

I just had to share this bit of news, I know that I am finished having babies, but it sure is fun snuggling the brand new ones that I can give back. :) Until the next time...have a great day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend

Bug is now three years and five months old. He has always been a terrible sleeper, in my opinion, because he doesn't seem to do it as often or as long as he should. He is also very demanding, active, and easily upset which means that Mommy really, really needs him to take a nap everyday. Sadly folks, I think it may be coming to an end.

We had been doing "quiet time" (it cannot be referred to as a nap due to the fact that naps are evil) from about 2:00-4:00 then bedtime at 9:30-10:00. If for some reason he didn't get a nap small things like a dropped blueberry or Max and Ruby going off resulted in him rolling on the floor whining and sobbing for half an hour. Now things have changed.

He no longer seems sleepy in the middle of the day if he wakes up at his regular 7:30-8:00 time. I had still been putting him down because I refused to entertain the idea that he might be dropping his nap. Unfortunately it's been taking him anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to fall asleep at night and that's when we put him to be at 10:00. He doesn't cry, throw a tantrum or try to get up. He just tosses and turns and sighs dramatically.

I am not a quitter (o.k., sometimes I am, but not where naps are concerned) so I decided to start putting him down at 1:30 and getting him up at 3:00. This would mean a shorter nap time and an earlier wake time. I was pretty sure I had this figured out, but Bug had other ideas. It took him an hour and 15 minutes to fall asleep last night. That's right, he finally dropped off at about 11:15.

I hate to admit defeat, but I really think his (and my!) napping days are over. His daddy and I had a solemn conversation about it last night and we have decided to try skipping it entirely for a few days to see how it works out. I am a little concerned about what to do on those days when he inexplicably wakes up at 5:07, you know he will need a nap those days and if he hasn't been used to taking one he will likely go into a fit of pint sized rage.

Dr. Sears recommends trying to hang onto the nap until they are at least four years old, but I don't see it happening around here. I feel like having a memorial service for the nap. Oh, how I will miss it. No more naps for me, no more uninterrupted phone calls, no more Supernanny without worrying that Bug is in the corner taking notes about how best to drive me insane and take over the household. If I could play Taps I think I would...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blah


That's how I've been feeling for about a week now. We were all sick last week with everything from a fever to vomiting to a rash, so that is probably the culprit. Either way, I've been pretty quiet here and I didn't want anyone to think I had died or decided to stop blogging...again.

I have been trying to take things a little easier, reading more and watching t.v. I don't realize sometimes just how little time I take for myself and I think it eventually catches up with me. I have also come to the realization that it's difficult for me to manage my computer time wisely. Since I don't watch t.v. very much and reading makes me sleepy in the evening, I usually end up online. I didn't grasp until recently just how much I "check out" of our evenings, so I am trying to drastically reduce how much time I spend online. I am still going to write when the boys are sleeping or with daddy, but I am only going to check my email once a day and no more message boards. Those things are addictive!

Grumpy is crawling now (and he pulled up four times!) so he is absolutely wearing me out. I got rid of our play yard because he hated it and now I am questioning the wisdom of that decision. He is like a little red haired tornado, that child can fly. Oh, and he ate a bug the other day. I turned my head for one second and when I looked back there were antennae stuck to his mouth. He spit it up later, I'll spare you the details, but I will say that my husband even freaked out a little. Yep, I think I deserve the mommy of the year award.

We currently have a neighbor who will.not.leave. Seriously, he shows up as soon as the hubby comes in from work and comes right back after supper. He never comes in, but it's driving me absolutely crazy. I want to handle this in a Christian manner , but I just find myself wanting to yell, "Please for the love of all find yourself a hobby!". Probably not the best plan of action, but I think I am making the husband nervous because he keeps finding ways to keep me from talking to the guy when he comes over. I don't mean to be mean, but we like to spend some time outside in the evenings and we don't always want company over. I'm not sure quite how to handle this one, another reason for my blah attitude of the moment.

Alright, my pity party is over for now. Today is the hubby's last day of work for the week and I am going to have to get out of this funk so he doesn't end up taking a second job or going to Michigan to visit his mom to get away from me. I will see you here again soon!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Just Had to Share This...

I found this post over at Heavenly Homemakers and had to share it with you. It's not new, but I just stumbled across it and it really hit home for me, I thought it might do the same for some of you. That's all for now, have a great Tuesday!

Getting Ready for Fall


My favorite season has always been summer, but fall definitely runs a close second. I love the crisp mornings, the crunch of leaves and the spicy scent that the air has. I love the idea of battening down the hatches and getting the house cozy for the cool weather and I absolutely love Halloween! Every year I try to make a point of changing some things in our house to make for a little cozier atmosphere. Here are few things that I do:

1. Dig out the throws. Oh, how I love throws! We have so many and I still want more. We have plaid ones, printed ones, solids, and I even have one with my name on it. I am a firm believer that you cannot have too many throws. I toss them over the couch, the rocking chair and on the foot of our beds. Bug is also a lover of the throw and can usually be found wrapped in one for about an hour after he wakes up on chilly mornings.

2. Fix cold weather foods. Soup, lasagna and chili are favorites around our house. I am planning to try homemade beef stew this year, the last recipe I attempted was a disaster. I would also love to give butternut squash a go, I bought one last year but I am ashamed to say it lay in the fridge unappreciated until it spoiled. This year I'm really going to use it. No, really.

3. Get the house ready for the cold weather. Our previous home was so poorly insulated that I don't think there was any hope for it, but in our new place I'm hoping weatherization will actually make a difference. We have double paned windows and the outside is brick, so surely some weather stripping around the doors and blocking drafts around the doors will help to keep it cozy.

4. Watch scary movies. I realize that this is more of a Halloween thing to do, but as I mentioned before, I love Halloween so fall always puts me in the mood for a good thriller. I don't do demonic possession and what not, but give me a good classic slasher like Halloween or a ghost story (and my hubby somewhere in the house) and I'm a happy girl.

5. Make it smell like I've been baking. As Thrifty Southern Mama you would think I baked things from scratch all the time. Sadly, that is not the case, although I do plan to start. But until then, I like to burn spicy scented candles or potpourri to make it seem as though a warm apple pie is just fixing to come out of the oven.

6. Put heavier covers on the beds. I have a heavier comforter set that I put on our bed and I add an extra quilt and blanket to Bug's bed. We also switch to flannel sheets when the temperatures drop.

There you have it, the things that I do to get ready for fall. I am hoping that someday soon we will be able to grow a garden so that I can fill our pantry with all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies and that I really will start making lots of yummy, hearty foods from scratch. Even though the highs here are still in the upper 70's and low 80's, I am still thinking fall and am looking forward to it more than I have in a long time!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's My Birthday!

I am 31 years old today. I'm not doing anything particularly special to celebrate, for some reason I've never wanted to make a big deal about my birthday. Even when I was a little girl I never wanted a party or anything like that, although any and all gifts were welcome, encouraged and occasionally requested by small decorative hand outs.

I had a friend ask me today if it didn't make feel depressed that I'm 31 years old. I can pretty much get depressed over anything, but surprisingly enough my thirties haven't done that to me. Sometimes it does take my breath to realize how fast time has flown by, but as far as the numbers go, I'm good. What does bug me is all the changes I would like to see in myself and all the little things I would like to accomplish. It just seems like time is passing so quickly and I am not really getting anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life and wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not longing to be single or to escape my boys and my responsibilities at home. I would just love to change some small things, like my constant need for advice, my desire to have the approval of certain people in my life, and my big mouth that doesn't seem to know when to close. I would also like to be able to mind my own beeswax and not borrow the troubles of others quite so often.

Then there's my writing. I would love to be bringing in even a modest income and I just can't seem to get myself pulled together enough to do it. I would also like to have at least a small desire to decorate instead of feeling horrified by the idea. I would like enjoy shopping for clothes and make-up again and maybe be a little impractical from time to time. That might be fun.

All in all though, I am happy with the fact that I'm the big 31 and don't really want to go back in time or remove the beginnings of my crow's feet (all of which were placed there during Bug's second year of life, btw) and I don't feel the need to purchase any miracle youth junk to prevent the frown lines that Grumpy's bound to give me during his second year. I am a pretty content gal, I just hope I still feel this way when I hit 40!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Have a Problem


If you've been around for awhile you might recall that I posted about my desire to eat healthier a few months ago. I had wonderful intentions, but things did not go as planned, which is why I haven't mentioned it again. I have a serious problem with food. If it's good for me, I won't eat it.

Honestly, you would think I was being purposefully self-destructive if you took note of what I consume on a daily basis. I feed Bug the healthy stuff and he gets occasional treats, but while he's having oatmeal and fruit I'm scarfing down a honey bun and hoping he doesn't notice. I eat candy ALL DAY LONG and wash it down with cola. I probably don't drink 5 ounces of water a day. It is ridiculous.

I've never had a problem with my weight, which removes a big incentive to healthy eating. I mean, if no one will know and that honey bun tastes so great, what difference does it make, right?

I do o.k. at dinner, but everything else is pretty much wasted calories. I know it would make sense to just stop, but sometimes it seems so much easier to open that honey bun than to peel a piece of fruit. Even if I do eat the piece of fruit, I still feel hungry and I crave a cake or candy bar right after, and I usually end up eating it.

I am not as dumb as this post makes me sound, I promise. I am going to be 31 in a couple of weeks and I am well aware that I am doing harm to myself. I just can't seem to muster the willpower to do any better. A few months ago I decided that the only way to break my bad habits was to just not have the food in the house. My first step was no soda. I actually panicked and left the checkout to go back and get some, I couldn't fathom living an entire week without my fix.

I know eating better would give me more energy (I could use that!), better focus, and most likely even let me hang around a little longer to annoy those I love. Being skinny doesn't protect you from heart disease, I realize that as well. So...I am trying again. My heart actually races at the thought (do you think I have a problem?!) but I am going to try. I'm off to work on the grocery list.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is Being a Mommy and Writer Actually Possible for Me?


Sometimes I sit down at my desk and fantasize about what it might be like to have two hours of free time, two hours when I was absolutely certain no one would have a poop explosion, lose their firetruck, or become terrified by the sound of their brother popping bubble wrap. I have so much writing that I want to do. I want to author more blogs, build some websites, write for Ehow and Infobarrel, try my hand at a Squidoo lens, write some ebooks. I get excited just thinking about it.

Then there's the writing I feel that I should be doing. We could, without a doubt, use some extra money right now. I feel like I should be focusing on that instead of trying to squeeze in time to do the writing projects I enjoy. I am approved to write for several web content sites, but there are not words to describe how very much that I hate it. I can earn anywhere from $5 to $15 for the work. The topics are rarely about anything that I'm familiar with, which means at least a little research and for sites like Quality Gal you are required to find a ton of links. It all seems so tedious and time consuming, especially considering the fact that I have very little time to spare. Yet I feel lazy, like I should just suck it up and do the work because at least it's money, even it is coming five bucks at a time. Of course, throw in the deadlines that I am pretty likely to miss because a catastrophe is bound to occur, and it means I'm a stressed, tired, nerve wrecked mess and not at all the mama that I want to be.

I have written for print and online magazines in the past. I enjoyed getting to choose my own topics and interview interesting people, but the time between query acceptance, publication and being paid makes it a less than appealing option.

My husband does not want me to be try to meet deadlines, work on the writing I don't enjoy, etc. He tells me that the most important thing is the kids so if something is taking my attention away from them or making me too tired and cranky to enjoy the family, then I don't need to be doing it. But shouldn't I just suck it up and put on a happy face no matter how stressful it might be? I feel like a colossal failure because I can't.

The writing that I want to do definitely has earning potential, but it's not immediate. But if I never get off the fence and really start I will never know. I'm fairly certain this is going to drive me crazy. Every time I tell myself I will just focus on what I want to do I feel like I'm just not trying hard enough.

I realize that this is rambling and whiny. I'm just trying to figure it out. I've been praying about it, but I'm great at asking, then moving right ahead with my plan to solve my problems on my own. I know what I feel the answer is, but how do I know for sure? Wouldn't everything be a lot easier if God just gave us a to-do list?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Blog Award


Kelli over at A Mountain Mama was sweet enough to give me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Since I love her blog, I was really touched that she enjoys mine enough to give me this award.

Here are the rules:

1. List 7 things that I love
2. Link back to the blog that awarded it to me
3. Choose 7 blogs to award as ‘Kreativ Bloggers
4. Comment at each blog to let them know they’ve been chosen


7 Things That I Love:

1. Jesus, who is everything and has blessed me with more than I could deserve in ten lifetimes.

2. My husband, who is also my best friend and the unfortunate soul who gets to hear every detail of my life, feelings, annoyances, the list goes on...

3. My boys, they are beautiful, perfect (I'm their mama so I can say that) and everything to me.

4. My family, they are insane but they love me and they are always there.

5. My cat Dynamo, she was the fattest cat I have ever known. She passed away in July 2007 of cancer, I still miss her every single day.

6. Good books.

7. The freedom to write whatever I want and the potential to actually earn money doing it!

Here are the blogs that I have chosen:

1. Want What You Have
2. Mama Notes
3. Momma Molly
4. The Mom Mayhem
5. My Not So Hurried Life
6. The Preschool Homeschool
7. Replay Today

That's it for now. I have to go grocery shopping and let me tell you, I would rather wash ten loads of laundry and actually put it away than venture out of the house today. But my little ones (and my big one, too) must have food so off I will go. Dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, you get the picture. Have a great Saturday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just Some Quick Stuff

Here are some random links that I am finding useful, maybe you will too:

I found this and it has some great tips for getting your house clean all at once instead of a little at a time. I would love, love, love I tell you to be able to do this. In fact, I'm going to try to do it today. We'll see how it goes.

I have been looking for a simple, free, Bible based preschool curriculum and I seem to have found one here. I also enjoy The Preschool Homeschool, it has some great tips and suggestions that are especially helpful to those of us who are craft challenged.

I have also been using Swagbucks lately and loving it. You just use their search and earn Swagbucks which can be redeemed for things like merchandise and gift cards. I used my first 45 Swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card and have purchased the boys a Bible story book this morning.

One more thing, my nephew Jason has a blog now. He is 18 years old, cute as can be and getting ready to enter mortuary school in about a week and a half so his life can be pretty (disturbing and weird) interesting . He is also hilarious and has more unfortunate and embarrassing incidents happen to him than anyone I know. You can check it out here.

Now I'm off to try and get a shower before the boys wake up and see if I can get the house clean in one day. That would be so nice,then all I would have to do is pick up the rest of the week. I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Strange in a Small Town

As it turns out, we're weird. We didn't have our boys circumcised, I (tried to) breastfeed, we often split their immunizations into two visits and we plan to homeschool. We aren't comfortable with the idea of daycare, Headstart, pre-school or public school, we limit junk food and offer fresh fruit as snacks, we have a set routine for our days that includes regular mealtimes, naps and bedtimes.

As I've mentioned before, we live in southeastern Kentucky. All of the stuff I mentioned above may sound like normal parenting if you're from another area, but here we are looked at as the equivalent of hippy freaks. Seriously. I actually had an acquaintance ask me if it took Bug long to fall asleep at night and when I replied, "Not usually, I help him brush his teeth, his Daddy tucks him in, then we read stories and he's usually out in about ten minutes.", she looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Sometimes I would rather take a beating than venture out into the world.

A lot of the flack, surprisingly, comes from medical professionals. I actually had a nurse practitioner scold me because I didn't have Bug circumcised, then roughly pull the skin back, something that his doctor had instructed me not to do. When I reported the incident to the doctor he apologized. I ended up stuck seeing her again and she tried to do the same thing to Grumpy. Needless to say, we will not be seeing her again and we are considering another practice a town over. I love our doctor, but when he's not available the other options are...questionable.

Then there are the vaccinations. We don't really delay, we just prefer to split the shots into two visits. We receive WIC and the ladies at our local health department insist that vaxes must be up to date before you can receive benefits. When Bug was a baby they made me wait for two hours for a fax from his doctor's office to prove that his shots weren't behind. I asked them if we could go ahead and get the vouchers that day and come back for the shots, but no, they weren't allowed to give the vouchers if his shots weren't up to date. He ended up with four shots and a finger poke that day. I still feel like a terrible mama because I didn't stop them. Now I know they aren't allowed to deny benefits, but at the time I was clueless and we needed the formula.

I really think that these women have never heard of parents choosing to delay or not vax at all. My poor niece actually had them tell her she was a neglectful mother and threaten to call social services last month because she wouldn't agree to four immunizations in one visit. She is a single mom trying to get by and it infuriates me that they treated her this way when she was trying to get the care that her daughter needs.

Wow, this seems to have turned into a rant about our local health department. I just feel like an outcast a lot of the time. I am not comfortable bringing attention to myself, all I've ever wanted is to blend in and be left alone. But I can't do that at the expense of my kids and I hate that our parenting choices, which seem perfectly reasonable to me, cause us to stand out.

I can only imagine what it's going to be like when Bug is old enough for school. I truly expect CPS to be called at some point, all jokes aside. It will probably be the women at the health department that do it. Sometimes I wish we could just be "normal". If I didn't have the knowledge that I do (thanks mom) maybe I could make all the mainstream choices that others here make and I wouldn't feel bad, I wouldn't know any better. Of course, I want the best for my kids so I don't really mean that. I just get so frustrated sometimes.

I do want to say, the parents here are not horrible. Just like anywhere else, most of them love their kids and are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. It just seems to take our area a little longer to catch up with the rest of the world, which is a great thing in some ways. Just not this one. I'm thinking instead of wasting time feeling bad maybe I should start harassing other moms with my weird ways, pull a few over to the dark side...it's food for thought anyway!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ok, I Give

Bug did not sleep until 11:30. Grumpy has been up since 3:00. No one is sick, they are just really excited about life. I wave the white flag of surrender. That's all for now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Homeschooling...Here We Go

My husband and I decided a couple of years ago that we wanted to homeschool our kids. We live in the hills of southeastern Kentucky and homeschooling is not very common here, except for special circumstances such as illness or an occasional teen mom who chooses to finish school from home. Even then, a home based teacher is usually brought in. When we made this decision we knew that people were not going to be 100% supportive, but it seemed like it would be forever before we'd actually have to share our decision with people other than family, so I didn't let it get to me too much.

Now Bug is three and he's finally eligible to attend pre-school. The questions have started and one well-meaning educator I've known since childhood actually called the house to try and get me to send him. I feel like I've been shoved under a spotlight against my will. We're not doing this to be different or because we think our kids are better. We just want the best for our boys and as parents who have attended public school for almost 25 years (combined of course, we didn't fail each grade twice or anything) we feel safe in saying public school isn't the best for our kids.

I was a straight A, teacher's pet, never in any trouble type of gal. My hubby was well...different. We attended the same schools (we never knew each other because he's six years older and obviously a moldy oldy) and he was mischievous, always in trouble, and not exactly an ideal student. We both recall teachers who were unpleasant, unkind, out of the room more than they were in it, the list goes on. The students with money and "important" parents were always favored and most of the teachers simply did not care whether we learned anything or not, until it was time for testing at the end of the year. More than one time I've had teachers instruct me to sit with the "dumb" kids to make sure that their answers were correct on these tests so that said teacher wouldn't look bad when half of the kids in that class failed.

I realize that our bad experiences 20 years ago shouldn't be the only factor in such an important decision, so here are a few more reasons that we've decided to keep our boys home:

1. We would have to send them when they are four years old and that's just too young. If I were to send them to public school I feel like they would need to get used to being away from me before they faced all day school. This means I would have to send them to pre-school at four years old. I can't fathom waking my little guys that early, putting them on a bus and turning them over to people I don't know for several hours a day.

2. Religion is gone from the classroom. We are Christian and the Bible tells us that it's our job to teach our children about God. How can I do that if I willingly place them in an environment 40 hours a week where they are instructed that He doesn't exist?

3. Teachers, no matter how many hours of training that they may have, will never care about my kids' education as much as I do. I know that there are good teachers out there, but at the end of the day it's still a job.

4. I believe kids learn best in a safe, loving environment. The classroom of a public school is neither.

5. Smart boys are geeks. No, I don't feel that way, but I remember what school was like. You could be a super intelligent, straight A female student and do just fine, but if a boy had the same grades he was a "dork". I don't want my boys to lose their love of learning just to fit in or feel like they belong.

6. I don't want my kids to spend hours a day on busy work. I want them actively learning all day long, not just sitting at a desk. Everything in the world can be a learning experience for them and the potential is just so exciting!

7. They are mine. They grew inside me, I gave birth to them, and I know them better than anyone else does. I will know how each one learns best, I will have the desire to put in whatever amount of time and patience it takes to make sure that they stay on track.

8. I can get help if I need it. If there is a subject that I truly don't feel that I can do a good job teaching my boys, we can hire a helper to come to our home or they can take the class online.

I realize that I haven't addressed the big S, socialization. Bug is already plenty social. He will talk to anyone and is very well behaved. He loves grown-ups, loves other kids and is always ready to play. My boys have two (soon to be three!) cousins who will also be homeschooled, not to mention all of the other friends and family that they see regularly. We hope to get involved with some other homeschooling families as well. Add that to things like church, the grocery, the library, etc. and I am not concerned that my kids won't know what to do with themselves in a social situation.

I am not implying that people who send their kids to school are wrong or bad. If there was a good Christian school in our area I would send my boys in a heartbeat (not at four years old though!), but there isn't. I have had people react as if our decision was insulting to them, but we aren't doing this because we think our kids are better or that we are better parents. We mess up regularly and are well aware of it.

I also realize that homeschooling sometimes alarms teachers and school systems. I realize that my kids not being there means they will lose money. Maybe if more parents choose to teach at home they will be inspired to do a better job.

We are going to start some pre-school activities this year and I am sure that Bug is going to enjoy it. I'm also trying to figure out what our homeschooling style will be, what type of curriculum to use when they get a little older, etc. I am amazed at the choices and can't wait to get started!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Think I've Got This Figured Out

I realize I said that I wouldn't be back, and yet, here I am. I am not insane, I promise but over the past month I've missed this blogging thing, so I've given it quite a bit of thought and here's what I've decided...

1. I am pretty unpredictable and have problems making my mind up about things. Probably need to work on that.

2. I really truly am not ok with putting pictures of my boys online. I won't be doing that anymore.

3. I can still offer something to other moms who are struggling, even if it's just the knowledge that someone else is more of a mess than they are.

Even though I've been writing since I was a little girl and have been published several times in print and online, I cannot seem to believe that what I write is worth reading. I love to write and I dream of making a little money this way t to help my family, but I struggle so much with really seeing myself as a writer. If I ever want to get anywhere with this, I'm going to have to shake that feeling. I can't do that if I'm not writing and I'll be honest with you, I haven't written anything since my last post here. I think this blog is one way to get over that feeling, plus I have to write or everyone will think I'm dead.

Now for an update on us...we're all doing great. We did move and while I was terrified of the change, we are loving it and I'm so glad that I trusted God with that decision! The kids still don't sleep so I'm still tired, but hey, at least I'm not wasting time lounging around in bed until 7:00.

I hope that you will keep stopping by, I really enjoy reading your comments. I promise not to spaz again. No, really, I won't. Hope to see you back here soon!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saying Goodbye to the Blog

When I started this blog it was intended to be a creative outlet and a place to share my ideas about keeping house, managing money, and loving the families we've been blessed with. It has been a lot of fun and I have "met" some really great people over the past few months, but I have come to the conclusion that mommy blogging just isn't for me.

Many things have led me to this conclusion, starting with the fact that in order for me to write authentically here I have to share quite a bit about my family and our personal life, which is way beyond my comfort zone. I realize I don't have to share those things, but without them I find that I come across as "preachy" and I just don't say the things that I would like to say. I also want more time to focus on writing that will eventually earn some money for my family because, well, we could really use it.

I do love to read other blogs so if I'm a regular visitor to yours, I plan to continue. You will also still be able to find me on Ehow and through my email, annitalawson@gmail.com. I'm not really sure how to wrap a post like this up so...have a great summer and God bless!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Change is in the Air

I realize that I've been MIA for a week, but you see, I've been busy having a breakdown. The hubby and I have been talking for quite awhile about moving, but now he's gotten serious about it. We've found a house that we are interested in renting. On one hand I'm excited, but I am also a nervous wreck as well. I don't do well with change.

We aren't happy with where we are now for many reasons, but I'm the type of person who would take at least six months to make a decision like this if left to my own devices. My husband is not. So, we're just waiting for the other tenant to return her key, but it seems she's dragging her feet about it. Did I mention that I am an incredibly impatient person?

I'm not sure how often I will be here over the next couple of weeks because even if this move falls through there will be another emotional meltdown to survive. If we do move, I will probably have material for more posts, things like "How to Move in One Day" and "What to Do with Broken China".

All jokes aside, this is very hard for me. I am not comfortable with uncertainty, I like everything laid out before me so that there is no doubt that things will work out perfectly. I don't know why, it's not like my life up to this point hasn't been topsy turvy at times.

So, I will try to be here to update more often this week. I would really appreciate your prayers that things will work out according to God's plan, because right now things are so up in the air that I have no idea what's going to happen. See you soon!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Kids are Weird

When I decided that I wanted to become a mommy I had a small idea of what I was getting myself into. My nephew Jonathan was born when I was not quite five years old and the babies just kept rolling in after that, so being around little ones was nothing new to me. Sleepless nights are hard, never eating a meal without getting up at least four times is a challenge and never being in the bathroom without someone standing outside the door anxiously monitoring my progress is downright irritating. All of that stuff was par for the course, I knew it going in. What I wasn't prepared for was just how, well, weird that kids can be. Yes, I have examples to back this up.

My Bug, see him sleeping sweetly up there? He exists almost entirely on chocolate milk, juice and water for weeks at a time. He periodically decides that food is unnecessary due to the fact that the muffler on his ride-on has just fell off or some other unexpected catastrophe that always happens when it's time to eat. Away he'll go to collect the required tools and just as I've started to enjoy my one meal of the day that coincides with Grumpy's nap, he will decide that it looks pretty good if it's on MY plate, so he climbs onto my lap and mutilates my meal. When he does finally start to eat again he makes his mama proud, devouring entire bowls of broccoli, packing away stir fry like there's no tomorrow and refusing candy for a bowl of grapes.

Grumpy on the other hand, always loves to eat. Unless it's first thing in the morning, of course. Should you dare to offer him anything before the mandatory 31 minutes of wakefulness he will shudder, wrinkle his tiny nose, and stare at you as if you've lost your mind. Should you not have his cereal and bottle ready by moment 33 of wakefulness you will be met with howling and screaming unlike anything you've ever heard outside of a torture chamber.

Then there's Bug's sudden moments of enlightenment. He likes to share these during any mundane daily activity and it doesn't matter if we have company over or not. For example, I was changing Grumpy's diaper the other day and Bug was watching. "I think Bubby needs more responsibility.", was his somber observation. Apparently it's time for the Grump to start pulling his weight around here. Then later that night as I sat chomping on my steak and potatoes he looks across the table and says to me, "Mommy, you are wearing me out.". Watching me eat has become too much for him. Then there is my personal favorite when he ran up and alerted me that "Mommy, mommy, I pee peed off the back porch!". The door was locked. I'll give him an A for effort though.

Next there's Grumpy's irrational fears. The vacuum cleaner he's fine with. Four-wheelers (ATV's for you city folk) are of no concern to him. If, however, you dare to put Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friend's on when he's in the room he'll cry until his nose runs. Certain baby toys are off limits as well, especially those that are brightly colored and play soft music. Oh, and if you happen to be my nephew Jason you may not speak to him or wander into his view unless you want to be met with howls of sheer terror. Now, I realize that embalming people isn't the most pleasant of professions but Jay is a really nice person and besides, I doubt that Grumpy fully understands what he does all day.

I love my babies more than anything, but their weirdness often leaves me confused, concerned, and occasionally rolling on the floor laughing when I really should be rescuing them from evil toys and ruthless funeral directors.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Bit of a Hiatus...

Real life is requiring my full attention at the moment, so I am going to be taking another little break. I will return to the blogosphere shortly, so don't give up on me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Much Stuff Do We Need? Part Two: Bed and Bath

If left to my own devices, I would go completely overboard in this area. In fact, until I started getting rid of excess I had five chest drawers and a giant plastic storage bag which were all full of sheets and pillowcases. We have four beds (if you count the crib) and only three of them are in use. It wasn't too hard to figure out that I had gotten a little carried away. Here is what I've come up with:

The Bedrooms

The Grown-up Bed - One flannel set for chilly nights, two cotton sets in case of accidents and so that I'm not locked into having to wash the sheets the day I take them off. Sure, it's a good idea to wash them the same day to keep the laundry caught up, but sometimes life happens and I don't want the stress of having to wash and dry the sheets to make sure we have somewhere to sleep.

Bug's Bed - One flannel set for chilly nights, two cotton sets for a change plus one spare fitted sheet "just in case". You never know when a nighttime accident or illness is going to happen.

Grumpy's Bed - Four sheets. I'm not 100% sure this is enough for the Grump, he's a mess.

I also kept about four pillowcase changes, just to be on the safe side.

I have one comforter for our bed and one lighter bedspread that I put on in the warm weather. Bug has one comforter at the moment, I haven't been able to find anything lightweight that really goes with a little boy's room.

The Bathroom

I haven't gone through my towels yet, but when I do here is the plan:

Eight large bath towels
Four small bath towels
Twenty wash cloths
Six hand towels
Ten cleaning cloths

I have this crazy notion that if we have fewer towels and washcloths I won't have to wash them three or four times a week. It's probably not true, but a girl can hope, can't she? My goal is to have enough that it's not a catastrophe if I don't wash them when I'm supposed to while not having so many that it causes an avalanche of terry cloth when the closet door is opened.

I use cloth shower curtains and I keep one spare, just for a change. I don't do bathroom rugs. Everyone in my house is male except me. I don't think any further explanation is necessary here.

Again, the key is having the right amount of stuff for your family. I need small bath towels for wrapping around my hair after I wash it, but if you have a super short cut and four sons you probably wouldn't require those.

Tomorrow I will discuss my lofty plan for cleaning out the kitchen. I'm looking forward to this job because my cookware isn't in the best shape and I'm hoping to find lots of good excuses to buy some new stuff!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Much Stuff Do We Need? Part One: Clothes

One of the trickiest areas for me to declutter has been clothes. I had so very many because people are always giving me things that they can't wear anymore. I'm not complaining, I've received some of my favorite pieces this way, that's not the problem.The problem is that I have such difficulty getting rid of them. I think I have a hidden fear that I won't be able to buy more, so I want to hang on to them "just in case". By the end of last summer my closet was so full that my hangers were tangled too much to move, I was at the point of hanging my clean laundry on other hangers. That's when I knew I had a problem.

I talked to my husband about it and he thought going through our things was a wonderful (way overdue) idea. He had no trouble yanking things from his side of the closet, but it took me most of the day. I was quite pregnant at the time and I was afraid to toss some things because you never know what size you'll need once the baby arrives. I saved all of my bottoms that weren't tiny or too far gone to use and got rid of all of the shirts except those that I wore regularly. We donated eight bags to Goodwill. Yes, I realize that is a bit excessive for two people.

I can't tell you how much better I felt once that job was done. I recently went through my closet again just to clear out the things I'd saved for my post-baby needs and got rid of two more bags of stuff. I can actually hang laundry like a normal person, it's great!

During this painful and frightening process I had to decide exactly what we need in order to be sure that we have enough clothing. Here is what I came up with:

Me: I separate my clothes into "good" clothes (those that I wear when I go out) and "everyday" clothes (those that I wear when I'm just home with the kids). This is a necessity because between Bug's dirty little fingers and Grumpy's spit-up, I would be replacing something constantly if I didn't separate the two. So...

Good Clothes: Four bottoms, four tops, one sweater, one light jacket, one heavy coat
Everyday Clothes: Ten bottoms, ten tops.
I know it seems like overkill, but Grumpy has a great aim and I'd end up in my bathrobe if I cut this number down.

The Husband: Work Clothes: Four bottoms, four short-sleeves, four thermals, four company hoodies, one jacket, one heavy coat

Good Clothes: Three bottoms, five tops, one jacket, one heavy coat

Around the House Clothes: Five shirts, five bottoms

He couldn't care less about what he wears, so I actually have to keep his better things tucked away on my side of the closet. I've never met anyone who could ruin clothes so quickly and care so little. I had to step in to prevent our families from thinking that I ran through all the money and didn't leave him with enough to replace his pocket tees.

Bug: Good Clothes: Four tops, four bottoms, light jacket, heavier coat. I can't do a really heavy coat for him because he can't move when placed in his car seat and he has a freak out fit. We just try to layer him well when it gets really cold out.

Everyday Clothes: Ten tops, seven bottoms

No, Grumpy doesn't usually spit up on Bug, but apparently everything damp attacks him as he walks by and he cannot possibly wear clothing with a pea sized wet spot on it. We have to keep lots of clothes to prevent unnecessary Bug nudity.

Grumpy:

Good Clothes: Four rompers or onesies, four bottoms, one jacket, 549 (ok, about 15) blankets

Everyday Clothes: At the moment, about 30 onesies, five t-shirts, five bottoms, six sleepers. It's hot, he's messy and I make no apologies.

I didn't go over things like undies and socks because, I mean come on, nobody wants to know about our underwear. But I will say, I don't do p.j.'s for the boys, it seems like a huge waste of money to me. Bug sleeps in shorts except on the very coldest nights and Grumpy is in a onesie or t-shirt now and will be wearing sleepers when the cold weather comes.

I know that not everyone's list will look this way, but the important thing is to consider how your family lives. If you work outside the home you will need a lot more nice pieces than me. If your husband works in an office five days a week then obviously my list would not apply to you. The goal is to make sure that your family has the items that they need on hand without an excess that costs unnecessary money and space.

I have found one unexpected bonus that came with all of the cleaning out; the freedom to buy new stuff! I always feel bad when I spend money on myself, but now that I have a concrete idea of what I really need I no longer feel guilty when I see that I need to replace something. Ok, I still feel a little guilty, but there has been improvement. I just ordered a pair of capri's that I needed. It was ok to not yank them off the clearance rack at Wal-Mart (not that there's anything wrong with that, but if you are petite you know how difficult it is to find clothes that actually fit there), I took the time and spent a little more overall to get a pair that will fit well and last awhile.

Tomorrow I will take a look at what a bathroom really needs. I think I'll start with toilet paper...

Monday, June 15, 2009

To Sum it Up...

I went to the dentist today sure that when I got home the problem would be solved and I wouldn't have to face another dentist for a long, long time. But no. My tooth was really infected so now I am on antibiotics and he won't touch the tooth until next week. Which means I'll have the joy of anticipation all over again. Don't you hate how they leave you in the waiting room for half an hour of dread and trepidation?

Bug has decided to begin his days between 5:00 and 6:00 now. I don't know why, but I do know that I wish he would get back to normal. It is especially horrible when it happens on the weekend, there's just something messed up about that.

Anyway, that's enough useless rambling for now. I will return tomorrow and do a post of value and significance. Or at least about something other than my infected tooth and early mornings.

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