Tuesday, January 30

Where, O Where Will I Ever Find You?!

In an attempt to require a bit more responsibility from my 'have-it-pretty-easy" children, I assigned an extra task for their weekly commission pay that they are getting. One of the new tasks is them taking turns unloading the dishwasher every day (I'm nice, so I take Sundays). I'm kicking myself for not doing this before. Not only have I gone 2 days without emptying the dishwasher, I've also been able to put off reloading it because I am waiting for them to get home from school (and we all know how I love to procrastinate). Another unexpected bonus is that I get to do a treasure hunt every evening while I'm trying to get dinner ready. "Now where would that pasta strainer be? O, yeah, of course it would be sitting right next to the cereal boxes!"

It is amazing to me that although my dear wee ones have been getting silverware, plates, cups and all sorts of other utensils from our kitchen cabinets for, oh, let's say the last 9 years, when it comes time to replace the clean item from the dishwasher, it's just a mystery as to where it should go.

The funniest thing was me trying to explain to Brainy Boy that we have two sets of silverware - an old set that dad and I had from back when we first got married, and a newer set, that actually still has all the pieces. It's not a huge deal, but generally I do separate the two sets so we eat from matching forks and spoons at the dinner table. As I tried to help him distinguish the two sets by observing that one has a flowered pattern and the other does not, he looked at me as though I were totally nutso, not getting it at all - kind of like "Uh, Ma, a fork's a fork." As you may have guessed, we've eaten dinner with an eclectic mix of utensils for the past two nights. I will say though, that both nights, my dishwasher has been empty by dinnertime without any reminder from me, so I'm not complaining.

Monday, January 29

The Thrill of Small Accomplishments

I get a bit irritable when there's something that I try to do and I can't figure out on my own how to do it. By figure it out myself, I mean using my own vast supply of logic, a bit of try this and try that, perhaps a Google search or two and then it better work. By figure it out, in no way do I mean to open a manual or read any type of directions.

My recent quest to figure out how to underline, I mean scratch out a particular word when I'm blogging has kept me particularly annoyed. This particular skill has eluded me for a couple of months now, and taking my too-busy-to-mess-with-it schedule, I've been going around in a state of silent irkdom whenever I have a lovely spot in which to use this little trick and I can't figure how to do it.

Enter today, just by happenstance, Bloggingbasics101 which very well could be a blogging newbie's best friend. I was perusing the site just to see what small morsel I might pick up and I was feeling quite smug, if I do say so myself. I pretty much already knew everything I was reading in each entry. Until....at the very bottom....was how to cross out, or 'strike through' a word in your blog!!!

You'd better watch it now that I know how to do this because it's going to be turning up everywhere. Now isn't this just grand??!

Sunday, January 28

Financial Peace for Junior

Hero Guy and I are taking (me coordinating) a financial seminar at our church through Dave Ramsey. One of the benefits that we've gained through this particular series is the importance of not waiting to teach our kids how to handle their resources until they get their first jobs.

Home is the perfect opportunity to teach the theory of the harder you work, the more you get paid, and our current 'allowance' system has been phased out and a new 'commission' system has been phased in. Upon hearing that this change was going to take place, Little Chic immediately wanted to see her list of assignments, get started, get her pay and then wanted to begin on her brother's list of chores for extra money. Brainy Boy, cleverly seeing that this may involve a bit more effort on his part, immediately proclaimed that he "didn't feel too positive about his allowance situation."

We've always given a bit of a compensation for a few chores well done and we've also insisted on tithing on their fistful of mites. But savings hasn't had much part in it all considering the fact that it already takes Brainy Boy about a month to save for a new hardcover Dilbert book at Barnes & Noble. The times have changed now though, and mom & dad have agreed to do a bit of matching in the savings department so that has sweetened the deal a little.

The whole idea for the adults and kids alike, is based on the envelope system. Hero Guy and I are using "electronic envelopes", the Mvelopes software put out by Crown Financial (which we highly recommend, by the way) but we are starting the kiddos with a coupon organizer labeled with their categories of giving, saving and spending.

I suppose we'll know that we are heading in the right direction if Brainy Boy is able to by his own XBox 360 with his savings rather than asking for it yet again, as a gift. Little Chic has shown quite a flair in the area of savings already, and we are wondering who's tightwad child she is, anyway.

Friday, January 26

My brother posted a religious quiz the other day which I took and got results, not surprisingly, similar to his. Rather than post the same results, I took this personality quiz that I found over at my cyber-friend, PandaMom's place. My results are a bit worrisome proving that it's probably a good thing that I have some cyber-friends who don't get to see the living, breathing ball of fun, the female BERT!

You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Thursday, January 25

Judge & Jury

I've always loved American Idol but I'm finding it particularly fun to watch this season. Little Chic caught the fever with me last season and we tried to watch most of it together, but this season, Brainy Boy has also come on board and it is pretty hilarious to see them both watching the show.

Little Chic is an aspiring singer herself, so she joins in the critiquing sessions by smartly giving her opinion on whether or not she thinks the particular singer will make it to the next round. Brainy Boy adores sarcasm of any type and rushes into any opportunity to add his two cents, so he has declared himself the "Mini Simon". Little Chic thinks this is nothing to brag about and tries her hardest to convince him that this is not a character trait he should develop, but he'll have none of it. The more blunt and rude Simon gets, the better Brainy Boy likes it. Little Chic and I tend to sympathize with the heartbroken, but Brainy Boy figures you should clearly know your talents that if you are not good at something, you should already realize it and not embarrass yourself in public. Little Chic, a true artist at heart, applauds all the contestants for "putting themselves out there" as she describes it, and thinks that everybody should attempt to do something they love.

It looks like this is one of those arguments that they will just have to agree to disagree.

Wednesday, January 24

Cozy Warm

Brainy Boy is such a grown-up guy that he rarely lets his little boyness show through. I love it when I see glimpses of his kidhood shining bright. One of the gifts that Brainy Boy received at Christmas time is proving to be a favorite. Grandpa bought him a pair of ear warmers but our outside weather didn't cooperate for using them until recently. In the meantime, Brainy Boy found a much better use for the soft fuzziness. He has been taking his shower in the evenings, putting on the ear warmers and then wearing them all night long, even while sleeping! He us assures that he can hear just fine with them on and he doesn't take them off until he gets up in the mornings. He won't wear them to school during recess because he is afraid he'll lose them.

Monday, January 22

How is THIS Any Better?

Today, Little Chic and I went to the store for a new pair of sneakers, which she desperately needs. We find the perfect pair, "adorable" in her words, and she is thrilled. They are black with light blue trim, which fits my bill for hiding dirt. One major problem - Little Chic is notorious for running around with her laces untied. The new pair is particularly stylish because it features not one, but two sets of laces - one black & one blue. She assures me she can handle a two-lace pair of shoes, even though her record of keeping one set of laces tied is quite bleak. I can't wait to see how this works out. It's gonna be double-tripping if you want my prediction.

Sunday, January 21

While I was Sleeping...uh, I Mean Busy

Although I've been sleeping in the blogsphere, I've been wide awake in the real world....not that the blogsphere isn't part of the real world, but well, you know what I mean. I can hardly believe it's been five days since I last posted, and I have no real excuse other than general busyness and perhaps a lack of inspiration.

While I was not here, I was maintaining the homefront, preparing for some monumentous events like Little Chic's very first 4th grade orchestra (she plays viola) and chorus concert (she had a vocal solo). I realize the picture of Little Chic's blue lap is not the most interesting, but by posting the only picture I captured of her orchestra performance I'm proving the point that I am not an adequate multitasker when it comes to taking pictures at the same time I'm trying to use the camcorder. Frankly, what I'm really trying to prove is that Hero Guy was running late and I was manning all the electronics singlehandedly for a few minutes.

The second notable event this week was the annual Snowflake Ball at Little Chic's school. It is a father/daughter dance which she takes as seriously as if it were the prom. We go through all the usual fretting about the dress, arguing about whether or not dad really needs a boutonnière that matches the corsage and mulling over which restaurant will have the most patrons to oooh and aaaah over her get-up when they go out to dinner. It's actually quite fun to see her excited about spending the night with her dad and feeling like a big deal.

Other than those two things, I also spent Tuesday awake until 4am listening to HyperDog fuss and fume over a phantom mouse (if it's not phantom, it's somewhere in the wall or ceiling, although we never heard it). After realizing that ignoring her, yelling at her and throwing slippers at her were not going to shush her, we blasted the ocean waves on our sound machine and shut her outside the bedroom door. Each night since, she has prowled around the bedroom, scooched behind every bedside table and under the bed and has come up with nothing. I'm still able to convince myself it's a phantom at this point although our track record is dim. (It's also dim that I have more than one blog entry containing mice in my house and I didn't even blog every incidence of grossness. There are disadvantages to living in the country in sub-freezing weather - namely field mice.)

The last tidbit I'll leave you with is that when I went out to dinner at teeny tiny Thai restaurant on Friday night, I had my first run in with a bidet. If you're not familiar with this particular gem, it's basically an automatic car wash for your rear. It features a nice warm shower and automatic blow dry when you've completed your mission and can come as quite a surprise if you're not expecting it.

So with that, I hope I've made up for lost time and have given you another word to add to your vocabulary list. As Little Chic says, "TTFN" (Ta-Ta for now!)

Tuesday, January 16

THIS is the World I Know

Our sublime non-winter like weather seems to have come to an end just as I was getting thoroughly spoiled. We woke to temps in the 20s, which have been warming to the 40s and 50s for the past weeks. Not so today. The temps began to fall and have done so steadily to the point of frigidity this afternoon when I went to take Brainy Boy for his monthly haircut. It was not a pretty sight when he forgot to meet me at the van after school rather than getting on the bus. And I can tell you that me chasing the bus down the parking lot with cheeks getting frostbite proved to be a real mood-buster.

I shouldn't complain, although I'm not one to gracefully accept things that I don't enjoy especially when it comes to the temperature - maybe I'll be working on that particular character trait in the coming months. That is if I can refrain from reminding Hero Guy why it is that I actually enjoyed being raised in the sunny south and do have somewhat of an inclination to bring up my own wee ones in that environment of perpetual summer.

Sunday, January 14

Gratitude

I sang this song in church today - it had a message I especially need to be reminded of sometimes. It was written by Nicole Nordeman, one of my favorite artists. It's about God sometimes answering our prayers in a different way than we are expecting.


Friday, January 12

Little Wise Guys

Overheard in the van, on the ride to school this morning:

Little Chic to Brainy Boy:
"I'm rejecting your reality and substituting it with my own reality."

I'm thinking that somebody has been watching a little too much Dr. Phil.

Wednesday, January 10

Screechy Scratchy

I've always noticed that both my kids seem to have a hypersensitivity to anything that remotely resembles fingernails on a blackboard. Brainy Boy can't tolerate most pencils because of the rubbing sound, Little Chic can't stand it when I file my nails and sometimes I wonder where they ever got that?!

Question answered tonight when I dutifully listened to Little Chic practice her viola for the upcoming 4th grade orchestra concert and chills were literally going up and down my spine. And she's actually pretty good. No telling how I'd be creeping out if she weren't!

Tuesday, January 9

Flurry Fury

Although I have been thoroughly enjoying the mild temps in these northern parts, the wee ones have been chomping at the bit for at least enough flakes to make the grass a bit slippery so they can use the sleds. Along with the colder temperature today, we had a few flurries that put a light dusting on the front lawn. The grass was clearly visible through the light powder as were the sled tracks leading down the hill to the bottom of our lawn. It was no wonder that Little Chic came in covered with mud after the feeble attempt to hit the slopes a bit too early.

If my luck holds steady, we are looking at warmer temps again for the weekend, which always puts me in a brighter mood. Cold makes me cranky because I get chilly when I go to the gym in my shorts (like I did today even though the thermometer read 36 on the way there). I don't like to fuss with long pants when I'm just going to be outside only long enough to get in the car and then back out, so I don't bother. For this week, the forecaster is my buddy as long as his predictions hold true and then people won't be looking at me like I'm nuts when I'm breaking the icicles off my bare skin.

Monday, January 8

Practical Gadgets

Everybody knows I'm a gadget geek, but in my enthusiasm I often get saddled with stuff that either doesn't do what it's supposed to or I don't really have a regular, practical use for it. I am regularly consulted by my buds asking whether or not I've tried this or that "As Seen on TV" winner.

I'm proud to say that my new Black & Decker rice steamer hasn't let me down. I've always resorted to Minute Rice, not because I liked it, but because I don't fix rice that often and I didn't have a better way to make sure the real stuff turned out edible. But I've been hearing how great the steamers are, and I do have a liking for authentic Chinese sticky rice and I've been obsessed with stir-fry for some reason lately. So I broke down (okay, let's be honest here, I indulged myself) on my weekly grocery run to Walmart last Friday, especially when I realized I could get one for under $20. I've used it twice since, once with converted white rice and once with brown rice, and I have to say if you make rice more than once in a blue moon, it's a dandy investment. It's right down my alley too, as I was able to plug it in and use it correctly without referring to the directions, in true-to-myself style. (One of the problems with me being a gadget fiend is that I'm not a directions loyalist, and I often end up frustrating myself or breaking something that is essential for functioning).

So guess what's on the menu again this week? But only because I have to try the real stuff, which I don't have in my cabinet yet.

Sunday, January 7

Status Check

It's officially the end of the first week of the New Year and I'm feeling fairly smug. I have gotten 4 birthday cards (with gift cards enclosed) in the mail marked for on time arrival. In addition, I am up to date with my schedule of Bible reading and I didn't even do it all in one day ;) I have to keep a positive attitude about my lack of exercise this entire week, as I didn't make that as one of my resolutions. My do-it-all personality has various "unofficial" goals though, so I'll try to satisfy a few of those in the upcoming week.

For now though, my schedule is a bit uneventful other than the 13-week Financial Peace University class I'm coordinating beginning Jan 10. I'm thinking slow and steady is the key to keeping myself under-whelmed, but that certainly goes against the grain for this adrenaline junkie. We'll have to wait and see if I can deflect boredom while scaling back and focusing on the tasks at hand. (If you didn't guess, scaling back my commitment level is one of the 'unofficial' goals for the New Year). Baby Steps, people, baby steps.

Saturday, January 6

Back to Semi-Normal

It's not even Russian Orthodox Christmas yet (Jan 7) and I just got my tree down and all the Christmas decorations put away. I always use this benchmark to decide whether I need to get my rear in gear after the holidays. Being near the North Pole and all, Russian Christmas is widely celebrated in these parts so it's not usual to see houses still decorated at this point. I did notice that the tree pickup has begun and will continue every week through the end of the month.

Along with tearing down the tree and trimmings, I put UP my winter village with Brainy Boy's help. I generally leave that to Hero Guy who never did get to it, but since snowmen and sledding gear are usually appropriate until almost Easter, I figure a little winter scene might encourage some flakes, which have been absent up until now. I would be completely happy without the frosty stuff, but the wee ones are sure their development is going to be scarred if they don't get a few trips down the hill.

It was a little reminiscent of my Florida days as I had the sliding doors wide open with 65 degree breezes helping get the cobwebs off my tree when I disassembled it today. It sounds as though we won't be enjoying anything of the balmy sort as of next week, so I'm gonna go dig out me ear muffs & mittens.

Friday, January 5

NAAAY, and then YAAAY

The time of the year has come around again when visiting Health teachers from the middle school come and present the biology lesson about adolescent development and body changes and puberty and on and on and on, to the Intermediate School grades (4,5,6).

This was quite the trial for Brainy Boy last year as he already knew all about the topic and was mortified that a stranger would be coming to talk in public about bodies of all things. Watching the movie requires permission form upon permission form, plus the opportunity for Mom & Dad to preview the movie, but it's your garden variety movie that even I saw when I was in Christian school way back in the 6th grade.

They apparently repeat the movie each year for three years, adding a bit of detail every year until in the final year, in 6th grade, the boys actually watch the GIRLS movie - ugh. Brainy Boy is horrified that he has to suffer this indignity again. As I explain to him, excusing him from the movie would simply give all sorts of opportunities for his friends to fill him in on the details which would be far worse and much less accurate. And we all know he's one for the facts, and only the facts.

On the other end of the spectrum, Little Chic has been asking since the first day of 4th grade when she will be allowed to watch the "Adolescent Development" video. She thought it was highly unfair that Brainy Boy brought his permission slip home already this week, and this will be his second chance to watch it, and she hasn't even gotten to once.

The world is back in order, though. Her form arrived in her Friday folder, and unlike Brainy Boy who asked if I could refrain from signing it, Little Chic shoved it into my hands immediately and ushered it safely back into it's home in her backpack until school time Monday morning.

Thursday, January 4

Something I've Never Done Bef ore

Shop for morning snack for 412 kids - For a total of 9 days of State standardized tests in school. Who signed me up for this anyway? I'll have to bop you one if you point out I did it to myself!

Actually, our PTA provides a snack for each day of standardized testing given in the school during the year. It happens at various times, for grades 2 through 6 and evaluates the performance of each school in the state. Testing starts for grades 3,4,5 & 6 beginning January 8 and each grade has 2, 3 or 4 days of tests. Somehow I got signed up as crew chief for this particular task although I stand by my story that I only volunteered to help, not to man the ship. Four moms went shopping for daily snacks/drinks and we'll be delivering the appropriate number to each classroom tomorrow morning (we'll be taking advantage of the muscle power of one willing dad as well).

It was quite the exercise loading 500 bottles of water, packages of cereal bars, cheese crackers, fruit snacks and other nibbles on a flatbed at Sam's Club. I thought we were going to have trouble getting it into the vehicles, but we're the power shopping sort, so we managed.

We'll have one more round of mega snacking in March, followed by a few days of testing for grade 2 in April, then this committee can be disbanded. I'm already on the prowl for my replacement, as next year, I am definitely in the going-along mode, not the boss mode.

Wednesday, January 3

Coyote Ugly

My day started out differently than most - Hero Guy drove Little Chic to school to deliver the completed version of the long house project they have been working on. He did it under the guise of doing me a favor (which I do appreciate) however had I insisted upon doing the delivery myself, his sense of accomplishment would surely have been threatened.

Since I wasn't hauling the wee ones to their destination, I was able to stay in my jammies until way later than I will admit. As I peered out the back window while watching Good Morning America (for the first time all school year, I might add) I noticed a strange dog trotting around in the back yard. Upon closer inspection I realized it was a true-to-life coyote, which even I've never seen (I only get the privilege of seeing them with their tongues hanging out after Hero Guy has done his thing). An emergency call to Hero Guy produced only the confirmation that he won't be sharing my alarm at the safety of our children and pets - he'll be thoroughly enjoying the perceived bragging rights he gets at having something more exotic than a deer sharing our lawn. I'd have posted a pic of the coyote, but #2-I left my camera at the New Years' Eve party we attended and #2-Little Chic's masterpiece is much more impressive.

Tuesday, January 2

Dear Mr. President:

Dear Mr. President:

Did you know when you canceled mail delivery today that you were going to really goof up my New Year's Resolution this year - the one that involves getting birthday cards to my family members on time? With all due respect, I realize that the death of a president is an important event, but anything that affects me changing my habits is certainly worth a little notice. Did you realize that I almost had to reevaluate my commitment when that particular monkey-wrench was announced on the radio this morning? My resolve is shaky at best, and I'm an all or nothing type of girl. If my first cards of the year don't reach their destination when they are supposed to, especially if it's out of my control, well that's just grounds for exempting me from any and all responsibility--not just for this month, but for the entire duration of birthdays. It's not that I already had the cards or anything - the original plan was to go buy the cards and get them in the mail right afterward - and we need to stick to the plan. In an attempt to extinguish any frustration on my part, I'm just as likely to give up this whole she-bang as to stay with it, so please, no more surprises.

With gratitude for regular service,
JenLo

Monday, January 1

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Another One Bites the Dust

That's not really how I think about years gone past, but I do find myself looking forward to what is to come and fresh starts for those things I like to improve. I generally do make a resolution or two, just in the name of progress I suppose. I figure this year I'll give myself a break and not officially declare some big fitness goal--(oh, I am fully pursuing that physical perfection ideal still, har har) but I figure that it's a cop-out to reset the same goal every year for the last 20 years.

My commitments this year are
1) To join my bro in reading the Bible through for the first time ever and,
2) To get all birthday cards/gifts to my family members on or before their actual birthdays this year.

The first goal is one that I've toyed with for a while and with my brother's challenge, got me moving. The second one has been a bane to me for a long time, driving me crazy that I can't get myself to the post office in due time. Since it irks me so much, I'm fixing it at least for 2007. We'll see how it holds--I'll be off to a good start because January holds 4 birthdays.