Monday, December 16, 2013
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Then, this past weekend, the kids and I went up to participate in the family activities, which included a Santa Claus in combat boots. :)
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I feel like we're fighting the mini-boss at the midway point in the last dungeon, and every month his health meter goes down just a tiny--but noticeable--bit. Once we kill the mini-boss, we can corral our resources to destroy the Beast Mortgage...
I guess this makes us like the Super Mario Brothers!
Saturday, November 9, 2013
So, the little Beavers.
Let's start with the oldest:
Elsie is loving preschool. I knew she would. The entire staff at the elementary school loves her and have already told me that they are sad that we are not going to be at this school next year (where we live, we are zoned for a different K-2 school). I drive her to school in the mornings, and when I drop her off in front of the school like a big girl, she walks off and keeps turning around to tell me goodbye, and that she'll see me after school, waving the whole way. She tolerates the weekends so that she can return to school on Mondays.
She has already been the PE Star for the week, and was the Student of the Month for her class for September--she got to have breakfast with the principal, and she brought home a bag full of goodies. We're glad that she's doing what she should be doing at school, because she certainly is trying our patience at home, behaving like a typical four-year-old (I think?).
But really, I am still constantly amazed at her stubbornness, her determination, and her imagination. She won't let me touch her hair unless she has a specific hairstyle in mind. Brushing it is usually out of the question, so she wears it wild. If it weren't for her clean clothes and sparkly teeth, people at school might suspect that we neglect her, when the reality is that we just neglect her hair--at her insistence. Occasionally I can talk her into a ponytail or pigtails, but then the hair accoutrements come home in her lunch box, having not made it all day in her hair.
She makes up fantastic games to play and solicits little brother to participate, which he usually does willingly. Her face lights up and her eyes sparkle when she has a great idea (she thinks), and she is eager for someone to be her accomplice. She loves doing "homework" and wants to color and use markers and crayons and pencils. She loves to play dress-up and make messes, but is not fond of cleaning any of that up and putting stuff away (it might be genetic, I admit).
Friday, November 1, 2013
And we've been making big progress. Army money really helped this month, and our BIG NEWS is that we PAID OFF ELI'S LAW SCHOOL LOANS!!! We feel like we're on the downhill slope with only undergrad loans to go! Having the end in sight is exciting, indeed! Cheers.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Monday, September 2, 2013
What I am realizing, however, is that when Elsie starts Kindergarten with Oscar on her heels, there will always be something to pay for, so we probably will need to have a sinking fund for school expenses. I admit I've had the thought about whether pursuing preschool will be worth it in the end (from a strictly financial standpoint), or if Oscar will be going to preschool next year given the chance. We'll see.
Next month I will do a summary of what we have paid off in two years!! So exciting!!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
The parallels in the two situations are pretty hilarious (in a very pathetic way). It was raining. And I ran to Kroger...twice.
Anyway, the month was a wash...again. Blurgh.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Growing up, there was a joke about cleaning for mom (might have been my own mom's joke about cleaning for her mom? or her mother-in-law? I don't remember), and I'll tell you that it's kind of true. I know that she raised me right, so when I know she's coming, I like for my house to reflect that. On the other hand, when it's someone else coming over, they might not get the full sparkle effect. AND when my sister shows up for a planned visit and brings my mother as a surprise (yes, that was four years ago now, and I still haven't forgotten that sheer terror at the realization), well, you can imagine.
So, I'm here, and I've been tasked to raise the two children I have now. And it's getting to the point where these two sweet-faced, sometimes-sassy tots need to know how to keep a house. I'm realizing that this has to start young, otherwise it's an uphill battle. I know that I have slacked off, both in my own housekeeping and in teaching my children standards, but now I know that now is the time, and it's about to be too late.
Heretofore, we have only made a big event of cleaning/straightening/tidying our house when people are coming over. This usually occurred on Wednesday nights before small group at our house. This has led to confusion by the 4-year-old when we try to make it happen at other times.
Elsie: "Why are we cleaning up? Are our friends coming over?"
I knew there was a problem brewing when my friend Meredith had the kids stay over at her house one Friday night while I was at cheer camp and Eli was at drill. The report was that when Elsie was asked to help pick up toys before bedtime so that they could make room on the floor of W's room for E & O's sleeping bags, Elsie's reply was, "My mother doesn't make us clean up our toys before we go to bed." And that got me to thinking that she was right, but she should have been wrong,
I had a Pampered Chef party at my house a week and a half ago. It made me have to clean up the kitchen, dining and living areas. Essentially all of downstairs. I have been very good in the last week and a half about returning things to that level of clean. And I've even mopped twice. You have no idea what a feat that is, since I HATE sweeping and mopping with a passion. Just to give you an idea, it took me almost ten years of marriage to use up one medium-sized container of PineSol. Yeah. I know. Just seems like every time I mop, someone seems to spill something, have a potty accident, throw up, etc. The rest of the time that doesn't happen (or at least I've convinced myself of this).
So, one night this week, I tell Elsie and Oscar that they need to pick up their toys downstairs before they go to bed.
Elsie (screaming at me): "WE DON'T PICK UP OUR TOYS HERE! WE ONLY PICK THEM UP AT MISS KAY'S HOUSE! WE DON'T DO THAT HERE!!!!"
And I tell her that we are going to start doing that, and she starts to bargain. "Just downstairs. Not upstairs. Right?" For now, I told her. Then, on Monday of this week, they cleaned up their room and put their toys away in the correct places, and now they have to clean up upstairs, too. This morning, I taught Elsie how to make her bed. Tomorrow, who knows?
I have been itching to start a commission program with them (a la Financial Peace Jr. or Fisher-Kids), where they work for money to spend/save/give, but the big realization for me is that I have to set the example before I can expect them to do what I want them to do to the level I want them to do it (age appropriate, of course). So...
I spent the afternoon deep-cleaning my bathroom for the first time since the summer of 2011, when Eli came home from Virginia (to be clear, it has been cleaned, but not DEEP cleaned). Again, this particular project was spurned on by Elsie's commentary. She wanted to use our toilet. No, I told her. Our toilet is dirty--use your toilet. "Only adults use dirty toilets?" Sigh. That moved to the top of my list.
Anyway, I'll let you know how the rest goes. The upstairs is a year-long project of its own...
Monday, July 1, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Yes, he was pee trained in 3 days. The poop thing took a little longer.
In the meantime, we decided it would be a great idea to take a quick trip to Texas for my nephew's graduation. So, I took both kids by myself, and drove to Texas. 15 hours. I put pull-ups on them in the car because I know there are stretches of Hwy 80 and I-20 that do not have exits or have exits lacking clean restrooms. And you know, when you travel with two small children, every bathroom stop is an ordeal: a parade into the restroom and a party in the handicap stall. As mothers will find out, it is wise to let the children go potty first so that the sound of someone else peeing doesn't cause them to pee themselves. And by the time it was my turn to go, the children were ready to go and would try to open the stall door. Depending on the size of the stall, sometimes I could stop them, and sometimes I could not. Yikes!
Anyway, 15 hours later we made it to Texas (no potty accidents!), and O-man had to use the potty before bed. For the first time, he just climbed up on the potty before we had time to get out the potty seat, and he went. And then he pooped. That was the end of it. We didn't even get the potty seat out for the rest of the week. It clicked for him, and now the boy is a pooping machine. We'll be on to standing while peeing in no time.
On the night-training front, Oscar is batting .500. Some nights dry, some nights wet. Still trying to narrow down the causes. Unlike Elsie, who would wake up screaming in the night when she peed, Oscar is content to roll over to a dry spot and continue sleeping. This possibly has to do with the fact that Elsie was trained in December, and Oscar in May, and the fact that being cold in the winter is less desirable. Or maybe Oscar is more of an easy-going problem solver. Wet spot over here? No problem. Cover with pillow and move over to dry spot.
I'm sure that by the end of the summer, the boy will be standing and peeing, and staying dry all night. We'll see, though.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
|Look, mama! My Slinky!|
I do also plan ahead and get audio books from the library. This time I hit the gold mine in a CD that had six Arthur books on it, plus songs to go along with it. I also brought my least-annoying toddler tunes. And an audio book or two for me. When one of my discs would end, we would listen to one Arthur story. And on the return trip, I managed to get the kids to listen to the Wicked soundtrack.
4. You have to take time for little people to get out of the car to run around, so go ahead and plan for it. But, make it a productive stop. Combine restroom, stretching, food, and gas wherever possible. Rest stops and welcome centers are better for running around than other places, but do what you can.
|Mississippi River overlook in Vicksburg|
|That's a mighty big river!|
|Welcome to Texas. Almost there. But not quite|
Yeah, like that. Times twenty.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
We have completed Baby Step 1 ($1000 emergency fund), we are working on Baby Step 2 (paying off all debt using debt snowball), and we are less than two years away from moving on to Step 3 (3-6 months living expenses in an emergency fund). We have been budgeting and setting funds aside for recurring expenses in sinking funds. We have more saved up now than we have in our entire marriage (all earmarked funds, of course), we have less debt than we've ever had, not including the house. Because of this peace, financial setbacks are small problems instead of terrible tragedies.
Take for instance the day sometime in late March that we deemed it was too warm to live without turning on the A/C. So, we turned it on. Air was blowing. It was warm. Something was not right. Well, we knew that repair would be expensive, so we stuck it out, waiting for tax refunds and another paycheck. We ran ceiling fans and slept with the windows open. It was not really a problem because we are really only home in the coolest part of the day--we got our air conditioning fix elsewhere. However, when school ended and the kids and I were here during the day, it was unbearable. So, we got it fixed. When the man quoted the price, we didn't even bat an eye. We were able to write a check for it right then. Because we have an emergency fund for times such as this. And now we have A/C.
On top of that, we were still able to make a major loan payment this month with all the extra hauling butt we have been doing. So, here's the debt thermometer for the end of May/beginning of June:
We are halfway through this thermometer! Maybe we can knock this one out by the end of the summer (August!). We have just less than $28k to pay off (remember we started with $105k, and started the debt thermometers when we had it down to $55k)!! This is exciting, indeed!
Monday, May 27, 2013
Oscar woke up this morning and everything was damp and smelled faintly (to me, since I don't really have a keep sense of smell), so I'm assuming that he peed the bed and kept sleeping...again. I wonder if this will become a problem?
Overall, the day went well. He put on fresh (Elmo) underwear at 6:45 a.m. and had those bad boys on until he was playing in the sprinkler and had to change them early evening. One funny during the day is that Elsie was on the potty when Oscar had to go, and he stripped off his underwear to wait in line. Evidently he couldn't hold it. Elsie, sitting up on the toilet, swinging her legs like she had all the time in the world, yelled to me, "MOOOMMMYYY! OSCAR JUST POOPED ON THE FLOOR!" And so he did. Because there was a line, and he had to go. Oh, the turmoil of being the second or later potty-using child in your family. Seriously, I can remember a specific time when I was little and we lived in the house on Zur Weide (Zwei) in Dansenberg, West Germany--so first, second, or third grade--where I really had to go, but one of my sisters was on the potty and I ended up peeing my pants while waiting in line in the bathroom. But, I digress.
Sometime in the evening, Oscar told me he had to use the potty, and it turns out that his underpants were wet.
So, if we count underwear for today:
1. Elmo -- in use until after sprinkler
2. Mickey #1 -- put on after bath, in use until early evening
3. Mickey #2 -- still on him as he sleeps.
One accident. Three pairs of underwear, but only two out of necessity.
I call that success. Don't you?
I'm a little bit nervous about taking him to daycare tomorrow. I know he'll do fine, but still--I'm nervous. There won't be chocolate. I'll have to take several changes of clothes. Elsie didn't have any accidents on day three, so maybe that's why I'm not as confident.
Also, just for anyone else who is wondering about potty-training boys, we've decided to start Oscar with sitting to pee until he can recognize what the difference between his urge to pee or poo is. Then we'll work on the standing up. He's so short, and to precariously perch on the edge of the potty is petrifying to this proud parent. :)
(I mean seriously. I crack myself up. A post about potty-training the ends with a [pee] alliteration?!?)
Go here for follow-up post.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
I believe that we only went through four pairs of underwear, unlike the 15 or so that we used on day one. So, progress?
It's vacation, so of course Oscar woke up before me. Since he had peed in the middle of the night and I had already changed him, he woke up dry. But, about fifteen minutes later, 7:00, I came downstairs to him sitting around in poopy underwear. And yes, there was squishy poop in places in my house that I would rather not have it. (We cleaned it up.) So, we disposed of the poop in the potty (washed that underwear in a load by itself in a not-so-earth-friendly manner), and Oscar got into the bathtub. It was the only way to get it all. Toddler wipes be darned.
9:00 a.m. -- Pee in his underwear.
10:30 a.m. -- Pee in the potty!
12:00 p.m. -- Pee in the potty!
1:45 p.m. -- Pee in the potty!
After that, Oscar took a nap and woke up before me. So we had to change his underwear when I woke up. Shortly after, we had to change his underwear again, but I'm pretty sure it was because he dumped a whole ton of water on it while playing outside since it was wet all over. Then, at one point, the boy was running stark naked in the backyard. Upon closer inspection, so was his sister. But, he stopped to use the potty.
He was good about using the potty. He is definitely motivated by chocolate. He used the potty twice before bedtime.
I checked on him around 11 p.m. and he was dry.
A good day, indeed.
Continue to Day 3 here.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
First of all, E had to pee every 2 hours or so. With O, it's been every 45-minutes. That caught me off-guard. One, because I'm not as focused as I should be on him, and two because I had no idea. I probably should have been changing his diaper more often. So, Day 1 looked like this:
7:30 a.m. -- Took off final diaper and put on BIG BOY UNDERWEAR!! Went pee on the potty (he's been doing this in the mornings when he wakes up and at night before we go to bed).
9:00 a.m. -- Pee in underpants, but when it was discovered, he was able to pee some more on the potty.
9:45 a.m. -- Started to pee in underpants, but was whisked away to the potty, where he finished.
10:30 a.m. -- Pee in underpants.
12:10 p.m. -- Pee in underpants, but was able to finish on the potty.
1:00 p.m. -- Pee in underwear.
1:15 p.m - NAP
3:00 p.m. -- Woke up dry from nap; a little pee on the potty.
3:45 p.m. -- Pee in underwear while playing with the hose outside, found out what happens when exposed to the sound of running water.
4:40 p.m. -- Pee in the potty! Not a lot, but some.
4:45 p.m. -- Pee in underwear while washing hands. Again found out the consequences of running water.
5:30 p.m. -- Pee on the floor in bathroom on his way to the potty.
6:00 p.m. -- He announced that he had both pee and poop in his underwear. Flushed the poop and finished peeing on he potty.
8:00 p.m. -- Bedtime -- Pee on the potty.
Midnight -- Went in to check on him and he had wet the bed, but didn't wake up crying. He just rolled over to a dry spot. When I woke him up just enough to put on dry clothes and sheets, he asked me if he could put on a diaper.
So, lots of pee. Day 1 down. Lots of work to go.
Go here for Day 2.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
|Our new little family on Elsie's birthday|
|Housewarming and 1st birthday party--Wizard of Oz|
|Family of four on Elsie's 2nd birthday--Cowgirl|
|Elsie's 3rd birthday--Charlie Brown|
|Elsie's 4th birthday--Strawberry Shortcake|
|Party at Miss Kay's house|
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Slowly but surely, we are making progress. Not as quickly as we would like, but the longer it goes, the harder it gets. I have quite a few gigs lined up this summer that are for pay, so this "extra" income will help a little bit. We'll see.
Opelika's public preschool is by lottery, and since the K-2 school for which we are zoned does not house a program, we are eligible for the lottery in both the other K-2 schools. Unfortunately, E did not win either lottery. Doubly unlucky, I guess. But also a blessing. So, yes, we are out the money for daycare for another year (which would have been a huge chunk toward loans), but, on the flip side, E & O will get to be together for another year to strengthen their sibling bond, and in putting off the formalized school experience, E & O will maximize their learning by play and development of their imaginations. All is well.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Sometime last spring, a friend from church sent an e-mail to both Eli and me, asking if we would be interested in joining her team for this puzzle competition. She thought and thought about everyone she knew who would be geeky enough to want to do it, and well, she thought of us. The crux: she only needed one of us. I thought for sure that Eli would make me arm wrestle for him for it, but he let me be the one to go.
So, one Saturday morning, we met at the student center on Auburn campus, and our team was given a packet of puzzles to solve during the course of the day. We stayed at the student center and barely remembered to eat and go to the bathroom, we were so wrapped up in the puzzles. At the end of the day, the scores were added up, and we came in second to last--but we had such a ton of fun.
Fast forward to October -- the organizer of the puzzle parties sent out an e-mail announcing his party for spring 2013. I immediately e-mailed him to sign up a team. Then, I silently recruited other middle school teachers to participate with us as the pink team.
Saturday, April 13, 2013. Eric's 13th Puzzle Party (EPP13) -- Your Lucky Day -- started at the thirteenth hour, lasted for thirteen hours, and teams were given 13 puzzles to solve. I, along with four of my colleagues and one's boyfriend's little brother, travelled to the Auburn campus to participate. On the way there, MM confided that she was nervous we wouldn't even be able to solve the first puzzle.
After rules were explained and directions given, we left were told to begin. We were given the grid to a logic problem, but the clues were hidden all over the Haley Center. We were in luck. A bunch of teachers (most of whom graduated from Auburn) running around the School of Education. We even had an inside scoop to some quiet seating areas where we could work through our puzzle. It took an hour, but we finally solved the puzzle. When we went to submit our answer, we saw that we were ahead of about half of the teams. Sweet!
We retreated to MM's house where we looked as some of the puzzles. At the end of the long night, we were able to solve six puzzles. At the wrap-up party on Sunday, we found that we came in seventh out of thirteen teams. We were thrilled. And we even got the highest score on a maximization puzzle. Heck, we'll take it. And now I'm so ready for next year.
Some things I learned:
1. There are code cheat sheets available, like this one. (This one was provided by the party coordinator. I thought it was inclusive, but that's because I didn't know.)
2. There are codes that are not on code cheat sheets (at least, not ones I could find). Say, for instance, pigpen cipher. And if you have no idea what they are or where to start looking, well, it's going to take you a lot longer to solve puzzles than a team of math graduate students.
3. In coding, a letter followed by a number usually indicates a Caesar shift. This information would have been VERRRRRY helpful for the Angel's Antiques puzzle. Next time. Next time.
4. Braille dots are numbered 1-3 down the first column, and 4-6 down the second column. I was on the right track, but had them numbered incorrectly.
5. I learned what a Polybius Square is and how to use it. Watch out.
6. A substitution cipher is not necessarily the same as a ROT cipher. This was unexpected, though I'm not sure why.
7. There are pentomino puzzle solvers that people, like math grad students, use, like this one. Cheaters. Okay, so I'm a sore loser about that one. So what? Now I know.
8. A tare is a noxious weed.
9. There is so much that I don't know, but I'm still pretty dang smart (even with the brain cell degeneration that has resulted from having children).
10. Solving puzzles is much more fun when fellowship and friends are involved.
So, that was my weekend. If this at all strikes your fancy, you should visit the website of the creator. Eric Harshbarger is a Lego sculptor and a puzzle maniac.
Monday, April 1, 2013
I'm not gonna' lie. For me, it feels like things are slowly unraveling as we get down to the nitty gritty. I'm going to go ahead and complain--it's SO hard to stop spending money. We are this close || to having our loan totals drop below $30k. Everything will be easier once that first number becomes a 2, right?
I've also thought back to the plan to have everything paid off by the time Elsie starts kindergarten. That's 17-ish months from now. We have slowed down from our original momentum, so we'll need to step it up a notch. We'll see how that goes. Until next month..
Sunday, March 31, 2013
|Hanging on the rail|
|Mama! The ducks have one leg!|
|Zebras! (in the background)|
|Group picture of friends!|
|Tuckered out on the way from zoo to Mobile.|
|Swinging at the Spanish Fort playground.|
|Don't push me, Oscar!|
|Across the bridge!|
|On the rope bridge--what balance!|
|Don't touch my eggs, Daddy!|
|Did somebody say chicken dance?|
|Do something silly.|
|Smile! Okay, make a silly face, then!|
|Do you see it?|
|Here it is!|