My new money saving trick

In these tough economic times finding ways to save money has gone from being just a good idea to being absolutely necessary. I discovered a new strategy while shopping at Target recently. As most folks already know, they have terrific clearance prices but their holiday items, many of which can be used as “everyday” items, are an even better deal when they go on clearance. I recently perused the Valentine’s section and discovered several basic items I needed and could use even though they were originally “themed” for Valentine’s day. The fact that many of them are pink is a plus in my mind; not only do I like pink but I also enjoy indulging and asserting my feminine side in a house with a majority male presence.

All these items were 75% off:

· 20 pack of Play-Doh in cute pastel colors [with add on stickers to use as Valentines] can easily be used for everyday or for a birthday treat bag.

· Box of pastel Crayola crayons.

· Four pack of kitchen towels in pastel pink as well as blue, yellow and green.

· Six pack of cotton washcloths in pink, red and white with a heart on each.

· Slipper socks with hearts in dark and light pink.

· Last but not least, guess who’ll be sporting new boxers with a big red heart on the butt?!

Here’s a picture of my bargains. Not pictured are the boxers because the hubby’s already in them and he tells me he has to draw the line somewhere.

DSC01099

Former Software Giants, Pregnancy and Ridiculous Labor Laws

One of my jobs many years ago was working for a large software corporation in Utah. I was fortunate enough to work for them in their heyday and the benefits and perks were great. This was back when folks were really just starting to use home computers and there was no Internet. My job included daily entertainment such as working with customers who called in saying things like:

“The instructions say to press any key, but I can’t find the 'Any' key!”

There was much irony to be found in working for a company in Utah with highly conservative values and religious beliefs. One would tend to think of such a company as being quite supportive of families and families in the making. Back when I was pregnant with my first child I was working in a position I really enjoyed that allowed me freedom to frequently get up and walk around. One day I was called into my supervisor’s office and was told they were giving me a promotion. Great! More pay is always good, I thought. As it turns out, this “promotion” did not come with a higher salary. In fact, it came with a whole new set of job responsibilities that required sitting down at my desk the entire day. No more getting up to walk around; something pretty important for a pregnant woman. I was told I had no choice but to accept this new job. Naturally I was not thrilled with my new position but I hung in there. That is until the next bomb dropped. My supervisor (who happened to be the wife of one of the older brothers of a particular family singing group made popular in the 70’s) informed us all in a group meeting one afternoon that any time taken away from our desks and off the phone queue would be deducted from work time and we’d be required to “make it up”. I fearfully interpreted this to mean my restroom time. I was over six months pregnant at this point and took numerous potty trips; that couldn’t be helped. I might also note that the bathroom was not close as this was a huge building and just getting out of the maze of cubicles in my work area took some time. Then there was the trip down the long hall and around the corner and then back. So, essentially this meant working overtime without pay….in order to pee! Because I could hardly believe that they would be serious in penalizing me for my bathroom time I discussed this further with my supervisor. Surely there had been some misunderstanding… right? No. I had indeed interpreted the new “rule” correctly. This is when I learned the labor laws in the state of Utah (at least at that time) were different from California and other states in that there were no “breaks”. In an eight hour day the only time that was required of an employer to give their employee was a 30 minute lunch break but nothing beyond that. So after considering this new situation and all that it entailed I drafted a thoughtfully written letter to my supervisor. I informed her that a workday lasting more than eight hours, not to mention time without pay just to “make up for” trips to the Ladies room was not something I was up for in my last trimester of pregnancy and therefore I was quitting. Though I’d intended to work up until the baby was born even my doctor advised against it considering the circumstances and putting a porta-potty in my cubicle somehow seemed inappropriate.

I hadn’t thought about this company in years until recently when the founders were featured in the news for each having donated a hefty million in California’s Proposition 8 campaign, one for and one against. But that’s another story.

Seriously so Blessed: Choice is the Real Blessing

For a while now I’ve been amused reading a new blog called “Seriously, so Blessed!” I’ve mentioned this blog once before but for those unfamiliar it’s a spoof blog; an over-the-top parody of the lives of Mormon women, particularly wives and moms and resonating even closer with those living in Utah or “Zion” as they like to call it. It seems that when “mommy blogging” became popular Mormon women began blogging but with their own special flair. What sets them apart from other mommy bloggers? Well, for starters their lives are usually perfect. And they are not simply perfect because they’re just lucky that way, they’re perfect because they are righteous; they are living what they refer to as “The Plan”. One of the amusing posts from this site talked about how lucky the author felt to get pregnant due to being righteous by “removing her second pair of earrings”. If that makes no sense I’ll translate: it seems a while back the powers that be in Mormonism stated that women should not wear more than one pair of earrings. No, I’m not kidding. We are talking about an organization that instructs its members what to eat, wear, read, how to spend free time, whom to associate with and more. I know this because I was once one of them. And I lived in Utah. Beyond the amusement of reading Seriously, so Blessed for me is a mixed bag of emotions about what it was like to live that life. As the writer asks her readers questions such as; “is on-line shopping on a Sunday against the plan?” and “is it okay to wear a sleeveless top?” I must say I enjoy not feeling like I have to worry about such things. (As if we don’t have enough things to worry about!) It’s comforting to look at my life now, a life lived genuinely in which I make my own choices, in comparison to how I lived and felt back in “those” days. Speaking of choices, isn’t it ironic how sometimes we make a decision that on the surface might seem foolish and ends up being the best thing we ever did? Likewise there are those unfortunate decisions we make thinking they are good at the time and they end up being negative after all. Oh, the irony of life! I’ve certainly made my share of decisions and choices from both categories and at forty have plenty of stories to tell. Many of those tales will be shared right here at SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem.

I enjoy reading other’s stories, too, even satirical ones such as those by the writer of Seriously so blessed. I think it’s even more amusing when you consider that because it’s a parody some of the things written that some people might naturally assume are a joke actually are not! Whoever the author of “Seriously, so blessed!” is, she had me at ‘second pair of earrings.’

In Honor of Valentine's Day



Ahh, Valentine’s Day. This cartoon reminded me of a story the hubby and I read during a book study on marriage last Fall. I was reading aloud a chapter about husbands showing their wives love through gifts on special days. The author gave the example of a husband either buying an expensive gift or doing something like taking a romantic walk with her and picking up a rock to give to her later along with a poem or note about their time together. The author went on to say that years later, when she’s ninety-three and he’s been dead for a decade what do you think she’ll have on her mantel? At this point in the story my husband pipes up and says; “The rock she killed you with!” I couldn’t stop laughing.

Psst: If you're a regular reader and thinking this looks familiar it is--it's last year's Valentine's Day post. Hey, sometimes there's re-runs!

Octuplets Mom: Just how far past “crazy” did she go?

What a “train wreck” this story is! It’s been said by every blogger out there already, but I’ll sum up.

33 year old woman ~ jobless ~ no home ~ lives in small home of parents ~ single; no spouse or partner of any kind ~ has children through In-Vitro Fertilization; SIX of them ~ then goes through IVF again ~ willingly has six embryos implanted which results in eight babies ~ gives birth to octuplets

· States on television that she is not receiving welfare which turns out to be false; she’s receiving Food Stamps and payments for three of her prior children who have some sort of disabilities.

· Admits she was already struggling to care for the SIX children she already had before being impregnated with even more.

· Has obviously had plastic surgery; somehow had the finances for this

· Oh, and amidst all this, apparently has the time to get her nails done!

There are so many things wrong with this situation and to point to each of them would be stating the painfully obvious. There are many reasons that having “insanely large” families is perhaps, how shall I put this diplomatically?...let’s go with "not the wisest choice" for all concerned. My husband can certainly attest to the fact that there simply is not enough time, attention and [generally] resources to go around when you come from a very large family. We are both of the same mind set of quality over quantity especially when it comes to children. The quality of life for a child cannot help but be negatively affected when parents are stretched thin in every way. I realize there are various schools of thought on this and there's plenty of debate over large vs. average sized families but at what point does the number of children approach the “insanity level”? I think most people could at least agree that folks like the Duggar’s passed that number quite some time ago. (And yes, I do get that they are supporting themselves, are not welfare recipients and have darling, well behaved children. But still. Come on, now.) So beyond the pretty obvious financial irresponsibility of the situation with Nadya Suleman is the very real fact that even before she had the octuplets she had SIX children. While single. Six children is a lot for even a couple to handle, let alone a single mom. Grandma has been helping (for which she is very fortunate) but it sounds like she has understandably had it with the situation.

I am a married mom with a teenager and a high needs toddler. I am pretty much maxed. Between therapies for the little guy, taking care of the home and seeing to Teenager’s needs I have all I can handle and then some. And this is with a helpful hubby! I realize we all have different capacities for what we can handle, but this situation with a total of 14 children and a single mom looks very grim for even the strongest, most capable person out there. And I do feel for those children, I really do. This is so unfair. Frankly, in my opinion it’s downright tragic.

They’re round, black and made of vinyl

The other day the hubby and I we were reminiscing about “the old days” and got on the subject of records. At this point Teenager removes the earphones from his head, turns off his i-pod and joins the conversation. Naturally, he needs an explanation of such an antique. We were talking about LP’s (translation for my younger readers; long playing records or “the big ones”) and we went on to talk about how we’d go buy a “single” when there was just one song we wanted and generally they were about .99. Of course today’s generation can download a song on i-Tunes for the same amount. Hilarity ensued when hubby reminisced all the way back to the “8-track” and I had to shake my head in disbelief. I reminded him I’m still too young to know of such things. (Another; “Sorry Honey, that was before my time” moment.) The hubby assured me that his 8 track was a hit with all the chicks when we took them for a ride in his AMC Gremlin. I recall how exciting it was as a teenager to get a “walkman” so we could at least walk around listening to music on a cassette tape. This of course was before CD walkmans were available and after we saw the end of the ridiculous giant-boom-box-on-the-shoulder craze. Then I think about the little guy and wonder how he’ll be listening to music when he’s a teenager. No doubt it’ll just be beamed directly into his flying bubble car.

Accidental Boo Boo's and Annoying Habits

I have this habit and I don't know if other people do this or if it's just me but it's this crazy characteristic of laughing when someone gets hurt. Now, I don't mean major accident hurt, just toe-stub kind of hurt. You know, when it's totally inappropriate to laugh and you know it but it just cracks you up and you can't help yourself? Okay, maybe it's just me. I don't do this when kids get hurt, just adults having very minor "boo-boos". So this morning I'm sitting down at my make-up table getting ready and mention something about my earrings as I drop one. Just then the hubby comes over to see what I'm talking about and as he stands right behind me I move my chair to scoot back and look on the floor for the earring when I hear a very loud "Owwww!" I had moved my chair directly onto the hubby's bare foot! While trying to move it again I managed to according to the hubby; "bounce up and down repeatedly" before getting my chair off his foot and out of the way. I immediately apologized for this but apparently it does not sound sincere or even believable while laughing hysterically. Through the tears of laughter I ask hubby how his foot is and express my regret over the incident to which replies, "Yeah, I can tell you're really broken up over it." Just typing out this story has had me cracking up all over again. The hubby is not amused. Okay, okay, it's just me.

Marriage-ism # 1

You can be certain that you’ve married the right person when there is no
one else in the world that you would rather spend the rest of your life
annoying.

The Three 'B' Words

Living in a houseful of males, at least two of which are on the geeky side makes for some entertaining events. Teenager loves to try to get his little brother to say new words and comes up with some pretty interesting options.The little guy has been learning more words lately and has really been to try to say new things. Although progress has been slow we feel encouraged and his Speech Therapist does as well. One of the new words he's started saying lately is "Bo" for "No" as he hasn't quite got the "N" sound down yet.

Now, a little background: The whole family are huge fans of the show "The Office". For Christmas this year Teenager bought me a DVD set of season three and we recently watched an episode which contained the following clip.

I must apologize for the poor quality, this is the best copy of this clip I could find on the Internet.


So since we watched this clip Teenager has been going around the house doing his own rendition of this. It occurred to him that his brother knows quite a few "B" words these days. The following conversation took place between the two of them:

Teenager: "Say: Bears."

Little Guy: "Beawr."

Teenager: "Now say: Beets."

Little Guy: "Beet."

Teenager: "Can you say Battlestar Galactica?"

Little Guy: "Bo."

Some things are worth it

Last night was a rough night for sleep around here. In fact, we haven't had a night like that since the first months after the baby was born when we were up all night long! We still haven't figured out what was going on with the little guy but it was an entire night long of him waking and crying for no apparent reason and each of us going in to try to comfort him in some way. At one point in the wee hours of morning I woke to no hubby beside me and no baby visible on the baby monitor. I ventured out to the living room where I found this:

DSC01025

A good night's sleep is worth a lot, but this is priceless.

Thank you, Mary Poppins

So we broke out the Mary Poppins DVD for the little guy. It's often enlightening and amusing to see what smart-alec comments the hubby comes up with during things like this. Tonight, he starts out by reminding me how lucky I am that he gets home from work so early because "Mr. Banks doesn't get home until 6:01 pm". He then goes on a good-natured tangent ribbing me about how his wife is there to greet him as he comes home to his hearth and home [or something like that.] I believe it's as this point Mr. Banks pours himself a Scotch, dons his satin smoking jacket and whips out his pipe. The hubby then states he wants a smoking jacket. I ask what on earth he'd do with a smoking jacket. His response: "Speak with a British accent and sing show tunes around the house." I now know what to get him for his birthday.

The Chair

Back when I was pregnant we shopped for all the nursery furniture well ahead of time. We’d picked out the furniture we thought we really wanted when we were fairly certain we’d end up with a girl, though we did not order it waiting until we found out for sure what we were getting. Ironically, when we found out we were having a boy this threw us into a quandary about furniture as well as names because we had a hard time figuring out what we wanted and our girl choices seemed so easy. We eventually ordered the crib and other pieces we decided on along with bedding and décor and had the majority of the nursery done at least few months ahead of time. There was one piece of furniture we couldn’t decide on and took us entirely too long. As you might have guessed already this was a chair; a rocking chair to be used primarily for nursing the baby in his room. I did not want one of the typical wooden rockers with a chair pad because I didn’t think it was comfortable enough and it didn’t seem like something we would use later on. We looked at the stuffed chairs that were also glider rockers that came with ottomans which also glided and decided that would be the best choice. We ordered a nice neutral beige-ish/brownish one and it took forever to come in. In fact, it was mere weeks before my due date and we were still waiting. The store promised us they would bring it out to us as soon as it arrived and it ended up coming in within just days of my due date. I wanted to be sure I kept the chair as clean as possible and decided to buy a slipcover for it which I recall shopping for just a couple of days before the baby was born. This was a definitely one of my better ideas considering the amount of spilled milk, baby spit up and other things which would be introduced around the chair. I loved this comfy chair and it was a wonderful place to sit and nurse the baby. In fact I’d discovered that a little fold up table placed next to it provided a place to set the lap stop so I could catch up on e-mail and read news, etc, while nursing as this was the only computer time I got back in those days. I became quite adept at nursing at the keyboard [apparently referred to as NAK: nursing at keyboard]. Well, the baby weaned himself at around a year and the chair sat unused for quite some time. To be honest it pretty much became the place where we dumped all the baby’s clean laundry to be folded and put away. So onto the main point of this story since I know you’re probably wondering if I’m simply going to regale you with tales of nursery furniture shopping. One of the challenges with having a little one with Sensory Processing Disorder is the lack of snuggling opportunities. Little Guy is actually quite affectionate, but due to the effects of his sensory issues will only hug and snuggle when he wants to and it is very brief. Generally this means while running about playing he will occasionally zoom over to me for a nanosecond long squeeze and be on his way. This has become known as the Drive-By Snuggle. It’s hard for a mommy who loves snuggling and is part of a snuggly/huggie family to come to terms with this. So, recently I came up with an idea; since he’s the snuggliest upon just waking I decided to start taking him out of his crib and sitting down with him in the chair in the nursery. Now I make certain I stay on top of folding and putting away clothes (added bonus!) so I can sit down for “snuggle time” with the little guy. The chair is right next to his little shelf with books so he will often suggest a story he’d like to read by both singing and saying “book” and “read” and often “please” followed by something which loosely gives me the idea which book he’s referring to. This has been great because I can get him involved in a story (something that previously he had zero attention span for) and snuggle him on my lap while in the comfy, cozy chair. He generally wants to come out of his crib complete with a soft blankie and a bear or other stuffed animal—so basically his "snuggling accessories". This is such a special time with him and I cherish it every day. If I’m lucky I might get as much as 10 minutes or so and other times it’s more like 3-5 minutes but still more than a Drive-By! I admit I do still lament over his coming out of baby-hood way faster than I’d like, but I know I need to accept the fact that he is growing, learning, changing and is going through different stages and will continue to do so—a simple fact of life that sometimes is hard to face as a mommy! But as a very wise man often says: “Remember to enjoy every stage he is in”. Great advice from not only a wise man, but also a hot-geek husband.

Discontinued Favorites

Ok, ok, I know “living in the past” isn’t good. But I must rant for a moment. There are so many things I wish hadn’t “gone away” and I’m not just talking about my youth here. It seems like whenever I find a great new product it ends up discontinued. I always find myself wishing I had stocked up on certain things while they were still around but of course you never know when the manufacturer is going to yank it with no notice. Take for example one variety of Litehouse salad dressing: Tangy Citrus Ginger. I loved this dressing not only because it was tangy and citrus-y but because it was a flavorful, healthy salad dressing with a mere 35 calories! I used to make an awesome spinach salad with this and now there is nothing on the market to use instead that comes even remotely close. Then I find that Litehouse came out with a replacement for their discontinued dressing called Tangy Orange Citrus which sounds nearly identical. Well, my local stores don’t carry it for some odd reason. I even contacted the headquarters of my favorite store and have been told it’s not one the products they carry or intend to carry, even though it available and they carry other varieties of Litehouse Dressing. Since we’re talking about food items I must confess that I still long for the Chicken Taco from Jack in the Box. I wrote to Jack a few times mentioning that not only was it delicious, but surprisingly low in calories. It was so yummy in its crunchy shell with marinated chicken that I could even overlook the creepiness of using a cheese “slice” instead of grated cheese. Even the commercial introducing it was entertaining though sadly I cannot find it online or I’d have it here for you. The hubby even wrote Jack when I was pregnant and craving my Chicken Taco. Apparently I frequently griped about it mentioned it a few times. No luck though. My “products lost” list continues with my favorite tinted moisturizer by Lancôme now replaced with something more expensive and not as good. The thing I miss most though was from my childhood; it hasn’t been made in…well…let’s just say many years; a candy by Willy Wonka called Oompas.

original oompas

The delicious little flattened round disks about the size of a quarter were filled with peanut butter and chocolate and encased in a candy shell. Yeah, I know what you are all thinking; “Um, you mean just like Reese’s Pieces?” No, they were much yummier—I don’t know what it was, but it was more than just the size—I think it had more of a equal chocolate to peanut butter ratio and the peanut butter was creamier. *sigh* Yeah, it’s sad but as my husband tells me every time we drive by a Jack in the Box and I moan about my chicken taco I’m just going to have to get over it.

Conversation Outside our Bathroom Part 2

Me:           "Honey, how much was your little beard trimmer/shaver thing?"

Hubby:   "I don't know, why?"

Me:           "Because I think we're going to need to buy a new one."

Hubby:    "Don’t worry, the whole head pops off, so if you dropped it and the head came off it will just snap right back on."

Me:           "Well, what does it mean when the head pops off, a spring flies out and lots of little plastic pieces go everywhere?"

Hubby:     "It probably means you were right in the first place. And how did you manage that?"

Me:             "I don’t want to talk about it."

Off to a Great Start

With the start of the New Year comes new resolve to try to be "better" at things like diet, exercise, organization, etc. This week the hubby and I resumed walking in the mornings now that our holiday/company and other excuses have run out. We know we need to kick it up a notch with exercise, because let's face it, while walking is certainly better than no exercise at all, it's hardly going to melt the pounds away and firm anything. I know this has to be the case because I wear a heart rate monitor and I have a really hard time getting my heart rate up there even power walking as fast as I can and if I'm not in the appropriate zone then I'm not getting the cardio I need. So this morning was the start of our plan to incorporate running for several short bursts into our walking until we gradually get to the point where it's more running than walking. Some of you may recall a previous post dealing with the topic of starting to run in which I feared looking much like Phoebe on Friends. This morning's stunt was equally as hilarious. The hubby turns to me and says; "Ok, there's a nice long stretch of flat sidewalk ahead of us, do you want to run to the corner?" I agree and we start running. We arrive at the corner where I assume we're going straight and he assumes we're turning left...I think you can see where I'm going with this. We had a crash in what looked like some kind of Tweedledee -Tweedledum incident. But hey, we're running! Well, sort of. Baby steps.

Return to the Routine

Happy New Year. I know it’s the 5th, but this is the “official start” of the New Year for our family. It’s the day we get back to our routines after a long holiday break. Both Teenager and the Hubby have been home on vacation time and we’ve all been used to sleeping in. So this morning was brutal. We’ve slacked off on walking for the last...well, let’s just say it’s been a while. We had holiday company, extra cold weather and pretty much any other excuse we could come up with. Last night when we went to bed I told the hubby I felt like the lack of exercise and not sticking to our diet during the holidays had really caught up with me. I turned sideways and showed him my tummy, which felt extra bloated at the time. He laughed and told me I was pushing it out. I wasn’t. So this morning we dragged ourselves out of bed an off we went walking.

Speaking of getting back to our routines, the hubby got dressed for work wearing what I refer to as his “Monday pants”. Hence the name, these are the pants he wears every Monday and he knows I hate them. They are olive drab Dockers and I guess that’s appropriate because the feeling of a Monday morning could easily be associated with anything drab. Hubby cracks me up with his predictable work attire habits. Every week on Casual Friday his “uniform” is jeans and a black shirt. So a couple months ago he started noticing others in his office wearing jeans and black shirts on Friday. Yeah, he’s quite a trendsetter. Now just for fun he’ll shake things up a bit and wear a colored shirt with his jeans on a Friday and really get the office in an uproar.

It was a little sad this morning seeing everyone leave to return to the old grind. Hubby leaves out the front door for work and teenager out the back for school and they both leave at the same time. So, it’s just me and the little guy, who I like to call Baby Cranky Pants. Thankfully his Playgroups also resume today after the holiday hiatus so hopefully that will keep him happy. Yeah, it’s feeling like an olive drab Monday alright, but, “Everything’s Fine in 2009”. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Looking Back before Looking Forward

As another year comes to an end I look back on all that's occurred and look toward what might be in the year ahead.

The holiday season has come to a close and the last of our company has gone-- we'll miss them but look forward to getting back to a normal routine and watching TV in our underwear. We're pretty sure our family appreciates the fact that we wait until they leave. As much as I enjoy Christmas, and really, all the holidays leading up to it, I am happy when we can un-deck the halls and put our home back together. For one thing, the Christmas tree occupies the spot where the little guy's play tent used to reside, so I'm sure he'll be happy to see it again. I am looking forward to all the extra dishes, serving ware, etc. going back into storage after over a month of being out. It took me awhile to figure out his diabolical plan, but the hubby cleverly avoided putting away said dishes after Thanksgiving and managed to leave them out all month long figuring that it would eventually come around to Christmas and why take them out just to bring them back in again. Yeah. Typical male thought process on that one. So now we can put things back in order around here.

It's this time of year that many of us start thinking about "New Year's Resolutions" and we seem to run the gamut from sternly declaring we are going to do certain things [that we never do] to forgetting the whole thing and resolving not to resolve to do anything. I'm thinking there has to be some middle ground in there somewhere. I mean, yes, I would love to lose 20 pounds, totally stick to my eating plan and get buns and thighs of steel in 2009 but at this point I'd probably be happy to not gain any more weight and get my buns and thighs to a little less resemble a hippopotamus. Does that sound realistic? I hope so. I can think of other examples but I'll leave it at that for now. What I'm really getting at here is that some of us (myself included) tend to get carried away with wanting things to be perfect and "great" [readers may recall this year's "motto"; "Life is Great in 2008"] that we lose sight of when things are, well, just "good" overall. So I think that instead of grandiose plans perhaps I need to scale it back a bit. This is something that seems fitting for my pre-selected motto for this coming year--"Everything's Fine in 2009". In other words, try not to worry so much, try not to get down because things aren't spectacular--sometimes "fine" is pretty darn good.

Christmas Un-Wrapped

Our family has been having a great holiday season. Christmas was spent with extended family and we enjoyed getting together with everyone for a traditional holiday dinner.  The boys were very happy with their gifts and I have to say that I think this is first time we don't have a single thing to exchange or return!  The little guy's big gift this year was a kitchen.

Frankly, I think it's nicer than my kitchen. This thing kept him busy for quite some time.
 
Despite the pre-Christmas accidental showing and our stated intention to return it, Teenager still received the guitar we bought him and was thrilled. Apparently, his best friend also got a guitar for Christmas and now they are talking about "starting a band". We got a chuckle when he told us about this. I think every teenage boy goes through this at some point in their life.  I also couldn't help but think of the band they started recently on Desperate Housewives with the adult males--it truly is a "guy thing". One of the cutest parts of Christmas was when the little guy also received a guitar.
 
boys & guitars

He wants to join his brother's garage band.

The Classic Kids Christmas Shows

I fondly recall the holidays as a child watching all the great kid's Christmas specials. Those classics are so timeless thankfully they're now on DVD to show our own kids whenever we want to instead of having to wait for them to come on TV like back in the day. Our family has really been enjoying watching all these this season. We recently watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and I couldn’t help but think about so many of the things said and done that would never occur in today’s shows. The hubby and I got a kick out of discussing this. Take Pig Pen for example; besides the obvious issue of his nickname you won’t find kids shows condoning the good natured ribbing of a dirty little boy who walks around with the cloud of dirt following him. (But hey--that was funny stuff!) No longer are kids allowed to dole out psychiatric advice for .5 (but that Lucy was smart!) And we certainly can’t call anyone dumb, stupid, or a "Blockhead" like poor Charlie was often called--let alone make fun of his bald head. Poor Linus and his blanket and thumb sucking—you don't see that anymore. And Lucy socking it to Linus—can’t happen either. Of course there was also Peppermint Patty, TV’s first lesbian character in cartoon form (come on, you know it’s true!)
Another Christmas favorite is The Year Without a Santa Clause in which we see the adorable and unforgettable dance numbers by the Miser Brothers. Heat Miser is my personal favorite and his hair totally reminds me of the hubby when he wakes up in the morning.
heat miser
It just doesn't get any cuter than little baby heat misers with their little straw hats doing the back-up dancing! For those of you who don’t own the video, I’ll leave you with the infamous dance number here.

Weight Loss and other Antics

Some of you may recall my post about those the little guy’s performance at my Weight Watcher’s meeting last week. This week, despite my best efforts he attempted to give an encore presentation. It has now been suggested that perhaps I might want to not come back next week . And when I say “suggested” I mean I’ve officially been thrown out of Weight Watcher’s—at least with my little darling anyway. I guess I knew it was only a matter of time before this weekly event with the little guy had to end. The really sad thing is how long I’ve been going and struggling to lose all the weight. I started attending when the little guy was only eight weeks old! During the time I’ve tried to lose all my baby weight I’ve seen other mom’s actually begin a new pregnancy and leave [you can’t attend WW meetings when pregnant], have the baby and come back all during the time I’ve been there. Things went well at first—back when I was nursing and got those extra points that made it so much easier. Now I look at my points allotment and really struggle with how to make it through the day and still feel like I’ve actually eaten. I know it is possible, I have certainly done it before, but staying with it takes a lot of focus and discipline. Since I know I need to find a way to attend I’m currently looking into some less than ideal but still potential options for going to my weekly meetings without the little guy. I also need to be better about staying on track with the program in general. Unfortunately, one of my own stumbling blocks is my “all or not at all” personality style. When I do something I do it all the way and am very exact about it, but if I’m not doing it, I tend to go to the opposite extreme. Basically, if something derails me I go off the program and go off BIG. So, what did I do this last week? Okay, I’ll tell you. Of course I made some not-so-great food choices, ate too large of portions, etc. but I also decided to make a ridiculously delicious Christmas treat. It’s that odd dessert with the saltines that you put a mixture of melted butter and brown sugar over and then chocolate chips melt on top and you have a toffee like thing with a layer of chocolate. It is often referred to as “Christmas Crack” due to its addictive quality. I can see why. Let’s just say that a generous portion was had by all (except the little guy) for the first and second night until I told the hubby to take the remainder to work. Apparently within seconds of hitting the break room it was gone and he got comments like “Hey, why didn’t you bring more?” It was at this point of course that the hubby shared his amusing tale about his wife on Weight Watcher’s who’d being going hog-wild with the stuff. (Side note: I think it’s a tie between which one of us looks forward to the daily life escapades in our household more; me so I can blog about it or hubby so he’s got great material for around the water cooler.) So I’m sure you can all see why the whole weight loss thing didn’t happen this week. In addition to the unfortunate Christmas Crack saga the hubby was hooked on making Egg Nog complete with rum and whipped cream. I don’t know what he was thinking but I had to tell him the one he made me was way too rum-y. “Honey, could you tone it down with the booze—it’s only Wednesday!” The end result is that not only did I not lose but of course I gained and gained pretty significantly. This always irritates me because now I have to “re-lose” what I gained before I can get back to loosing. It’s that old syndrome of losing the same five or ten pounds over and over again. Frankly, it amazes how easy it is to gain weight in just a week if you are not watching it! I can see how easy it is for folks who don’t follow any kind of “plan” to just keep gaining and gaining. The food choices we have today make it that much harder. Finding the healthier, lower calorie options is difficult. Eating out is especially difficult due to not knowing how food is prepared, exactly what’s in it and the portion size. Splitting things is a great way to go but near impossible for me since the food preferences of the hubs and I couldn’t be more opposite. So our meals out have to be our “splurge meals” on the weekend that we’ve saved up for calorie-wise by eating smart during the rest of the week. Which is why I can’t afford to have any more rummed-up Egg Nog or Christmas Crack around the house. Here’s hoping for better results next week.

Holiday Happenings & Family Traditions

This year we finally purchased a wooden Advent calendar to use each year and fill with our own little treats for the boys to count down the days to Christmas.

DSC00906This is where I must give proper credit to my creative and handy hubby who spruced this up. Since we didn’t find one we liked that was “cute enough” we decided to embellish it ourselves. This meant hubby had to find a way to attach tiny little pieces of décor that were not flat on the back, requiring snipping, sanding, gluing and the removal of some skin off his fingertips.

Chocolate baby

Since the little guy has not had much in the way of sweets before, this is a whole new experience for him. Behold the "first time with chocolate" photo. This was a huge hit.

Each year we look forward to our town’s tradition of Santa riding down our street on his sleigh pulled by the Fire truck. It’s a fun event that’s been going on since Teenager was a little guy himself. We all bundled up and headed out when we heard the sirens signaling Santa’s arrival.

kids waiting 4 santa santa's sleigh

santa's sleigh ii

Having kids at totally different stages in life always proves to be entertaining. This year was significant in that Little Guy is just old enough to get excited to see Santa and Teenager was excited to see all the neighborhood girls. It doesn't hurt either that an adorable baby brother is a "chick magnet".

Two Year old Tantrums + Sensory Processing Disorder = Looney Tunes Character

My recent Weight Watchers meeting didn’t go so well. I seem to be stuck in one of those awful holding patterns where weight is concerned (note the ticker has not moved in quite some time—I know, you are all glued to following my weight loss just as closely as the milestones of your own children.) However my biggest struggle this week was not as much weight as dealing with my darling little one. Let me see how to describe his behavior accurately… I’d say it closely resembled the Tasmanian Devil being let loose in the room.

TazWhen we arrived, it was clear keeping him in his stroller was not going to work. For one thing, he spotted the other kids playing with some really cute little house sets and thankfully he was invited to join in and play with them. And by “invited” I mean I begged the other mommy to let my child join hers to play. This actually lasted for about 15 minutes which was remarkable for the little guy because his sensory issues usually keep him from focusing and playing with a toy as other kids his age do. I was really hoping that allowing him the freedom to get out of the stroller and play would keep him happy and occupied because Weight Watchers was going over the new changes to the program in this meeting and I really needed to pay attention. I should have known better. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the little guy approach the door and then open it and walk outside. I ran across the room and grabbed him as he was [thankfully] just standing there and not attempting to go anywhere. After bringing him in and telling him that he cannot go outside and needs to stay inside he proceeded to run amok wreaking sheer havoc. In the course of a very few minutes he attempted to level a display of cook books, weigh himself, try to get into any number of purses placed enticingly at his level, grab part of a snack out of a other child’s hand, weigh himself again this time taking the desktop display portion of the scale down by yanking on the cord and grab a handful of paper towels making a trail with them. I might add I was following him around trying to circumvent these activities, keep him quiet and out of trouble as best I could. It became increasingly clear that things were going downhill fast. I wish I had photos for you but I felt it might be considered bad form to whip out my camera and photograph my shrieking, squalling child while a roomful of people were trying to learn how to calculate their food choices. I tried to get his weighted vest on him thinking he might need more sensory input, but that proved impossible –I would have more luck putting doll clothes on a pig covered in baby oil. He started getting really upset and quite vocal about it the more I tried to contain him so I knew I had to make a break for it which would unfortunately involve getting back to the stroller and trying to wrestle him in. This is the part where every mom out there who’s ever experienced this can attest to the fact that it is the most frustrating, aggravating moment where you just want to scream. This part was so bad in fact, that they stopped the meeting—for me—so I could pack up my darling little angel and get the heck out because at this point no one could hear anything the leader was saying. I don’t even know how I got that kid in his stroller, he is very strong and when he has a tantrum it takes all the strength I’ve got, both physical and emotional to somehow deal with it. Amid much screaming we managed to get out of there and into the car. When we got home he went straight to bed. And then Daddy got a call at work. Yeah, one of those calls. Any husband and daddy out there knows the one I’m talking about—the one where your wife calls you and you can barely understand her while the words “your kid” are intermingled with some unfortunate language and shrieking. It’s the call where you wish you just been in the bathroom when it came in-- but no, you just had to be at your desk and answer it. And now you’re screwed.

When things calmed down the hubby reminded me that although times like this are tough, and this age makes it even tougher things could be very different. There could have been no Baby and would I really want things that way? No. The answer is no. Yes, I sometimes wonder how I deal with all of this—the baby later in life, the little guy who has special challenges and everything else that goes along with it. But yes, it is all worth it and I know I need to remind myself of that during times like these.

So, while I still need to learn what I missed in the meeting and get back on board with the rest of my weight loss I know that the missed meeting is only a temporary setback. Along with the pizza I ate last night.

The kid’s really are paying attention

The other night after dinner when baby was down for the night the hubby and teenager and I were all sitting on the sofa watching TV. Then during the middle of some show I made a request that is apparently fairly routine. I asked if the hubby would go to the kitchen to get us a little treat for dessert while I paused the TV. Teenager all of a sudden pipes up and says; “Oh no, do we have to do this again?” We ask him what the heck he’s talking about and he launches into this little monologue:

“Well, whenever you guys do this it always means a huge break right in the middle of the show. You ask Dad to get something, he doesn’t know what it is, you try to explain it, and you guys have a little argument about who should go get it. Then Dad finally lumbers out to the kitchen, looks for it, can’t find it, and you explain it again while you guys argue again about where it is and why he should be able to find it. He finally finds it and then lumbers back to living room and sits down when we finally get to start the show again.”

By this time, the hubby and I were laughing so hard we were in tears. There’s nothing like your kid doing a full-on skit of your behavior! Not since Tina Fey’s “Sarah Palin” has there been a more hilariously accurate spoof. We had no idea we had this little “routine” going, not to mention how much of a comedy routine it had become for the whole family.

A Sense of Humor: A Mommy's Most Important Asset

The following pictorial and narrative is provided to you courtesy of SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem, and effectively illustrates the first rule of surviving the mayhem: Don't get mad - get your camera. These photos were also included in an e-mail to Daddy at work as part of a little feature I like to call "What Your Kid Did". Notice possession of said child reverts to the male parental unit in cases such as this.





Not only is this yogurt covered toddler proudly displaying his work, as soon as I grabbed the camera, and I kid you not, he said; "Cheese".

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree



This weekend was our annual trip up to the mountains to the Christmas tree farms. We enjoyed a nice drive there, complete with our festive holiday Starbuck’s beverages and Christmas music on the car stereo. Although we’d intended to bring the baby jogger stroller we did manage to make do with the regular stroller in the car. Baby enjoyed walking part of the time and we all trekked through the woods looking at various Christmas trees. Hubby took full advantage of the beauty around us by getting some great photos. Like we do every year, we talked about how most of the trees seem to get cut when they reach around 8 feet not leaving any taller ones for families like us who need a taller tree. Like we do every year we also discussed that the trees that grow here are just not as nice as those in other areas such as Noble Fir which seems to be our favorite. Then, like we do every year, we ended the day by stopping by our local home improvement warehouse to purchase our Christmas tree. It’s tradition.